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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 15 July 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
HM Treasury
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jul 2019, 2:41 p.m.

Transparency is the best disinfectant in such cases, and the Government are working hard to improve the operation of Companies House to ensure that we get to the bottom of some of these spurious companies. We are also fully committed to the establishment of a public register of property ownership in the UK, and are working with overseas territories to ensure that similar registers are established to cover ownership there.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jul 2019, 2:41 p.m.

As capital moves ever more easily, it is imperative that we look again at the very limited circumstances in which large financial actors can at present be held accountable before the law. The Minister mentioned corporations a moment ago, but the Government’s economic crime plan totally fails to take on the issue of corporate criminal liability, which we must consider. Here is a very simple question: what are the Government afraid of?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

As the hon. Gentleman will know, I have been talking about that issue for a long time, and we have been working hard on it. “Failure to prevent” in relation to tax evasion is now being rolled out, and the National Security Council discussed the issue more than a year ago. The hon. Gentleman will, I hope, wait to see what happens, but we are determined to try to deal with it.

See more like "Rwandan Genocide: Alleged Perpetrators"

Rwandan Genocide: Alleged Perpetrators
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 09 April 2019

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 12:46 p.m.

My right hon. Friend is a strong supporter of Rwanda and knows the country incredibly well. I respect many of his views on the country and on the need for action, but I have to say that I fundamentally disagree with his last point. The United Kingdom has not shielded these people. He will know that on 28 July 2017 the High Court ruled that they could not be extradited, for fear of not facing a fair trial. He will know and respect the difference between the Government, the police and the judiciary. He will know that we have to follow the rule of law and that ruling.

This Government, and previous Governments, have been committed to bringing people to trial, which is why he has raised this issue. We have spent £3 million trying to get the right outcome, but when the Court ruled that these individuals could not be extradited, the United Kingdom, under its genocide convention obligations and after requests from the Rwandan Government, took on the investigation itself. We went out to meet officials in Rwanda and to gather evidence there, and there is a live police investigation into a number of individuals in relation to potential war crimes. My right hon. Friend will also understand that, as this is a live police investigation, there is no more I can say on this matter, for fear of prejudicing a fair trial here or anywhere else, and that is where we have to leave it. Those are the facts we find before us.

The Government are not shielding any war criminals, and nor should we. We would not do that. We are doing our best. I have raised the issue with the counter-terrorism police, and they say that the timescale for these investigations is not 10 years but more like between three and five years. I can assure my right hon. Friend that if the police require more resource or if they come up against an obstacle relating to international relations, the Government are standing by to help, to expedite and to ensure that those suspected of war crimes face full justice, but there is absolutely no case that this Government or any previous Government have shielded them from any war crimes trials that they might face.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 12:49 p.m.

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) for applying for this urgent question on such an important matter, and I am grateful to you for granting it, Mr Speaker. The Rwandan genocide took place in 1994, and its recent 25-year anniversary was a haunting reminder of what happened. It was an atrocious act of violence, with hundreds of thousands of people being killed in just 100 days. That such a heinous act took place while the world stood by is a stain on the international community.

Allegations have been made against five individuals whose extradition to Rwanda was not granted by the High Court in 2017. I will not comment specifically on the individuals themselves. It has, however, been reported in the past couple of days that Scotland Yard received a referral from the Rwandan authorities in January 2018, and that Scotland Yard officers were sent to help with the investigation regarding those individuals, as the Minister has confirmed today.

It is right that these allegations are investigated in this country. We believe in a rules-based international order. If that is to mean anything, a crime against humanity must be considered as a crime against us all; no matter where in the world it takes place, all efforts must be made to pursue justice for victims. Although the Minister must be circumspect about what he says with an investigation ongoing, can he reassure the House that all necessary resources will be put at the disposal of the investigation, that all possible efforts to gather evidence will be made and that, although it will of course be complex, the investigation will be carried out carefully and as speedily as possible?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 12:51 p.m.

I can give the hon. Gentleman that reassurance. At the beginning of this year, I got an update from the counter-terrorism police about the conduct of any investigations relating to people from Rwanda. In fact, I briefed my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) on that at about the same time to make sure he realised we are not forgetting this. We are not going to forget the genocide, and nor are we going to forget bringing those people to justice. I am very happy to keep the House posted, as we are allowed to. Nevertheless, with respect, we have to remember that this is a live police investigation and therefore all the safeguards apply.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 01 April 2019

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

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

I am afraid that is simply not the case. I speak regularly to all the leaders of the regional counter-terrorism response and the serious organised crime response. The part of policing that currently gets increased funding around that speciality is organised crime and counter-terrorism. I am happy to visit with the hon. Gentleman the counter-terrorist unit in his part of the country, which does a first-class job. The problem is not access to that speciality but making sure that we cut off the future demand and threats. I urge him to come with me to visit his local unit, and we can discuss the Prevent programme together.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Apr 2019, 3:18 p.m.

May I add the congratulations of Members on the Opposition Benches to the hon. Member for South East Cornwall (Mrs Murray)?

The Minister has spoken about having more money for counter-terrorism, but when an appalling terrorist attack occurs it draws in officers and resources from mainstream policing as well as specialist counter-terror officers. Surely he must accept that cutting more than 21,000 police officers since 2010 has diminished the Government’s capacity to keep people safe.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Apr 2019, 3:20 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman will know that when police forces come under pressure—such as when they respond to a terrorist incident, to an incident such as Salisbury or, indeed, as in my constituency, to a process such as fracking—there is an extra grant for those police forces. We have refunded extra money to police forces in Dorset, London and Manchester, and we will continue to do so. That is why we have this pot in the Home Office: to make sure that we can flex as something happens. Police respond, and they then get back the money that they need.

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Far-right Violence and Online Extremism
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
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
18 Mar 2019, 4:53 p.m.

My hon. Friend, as a New Zealander and a Brit, makes a valid point about the strength of the New Zealand nation. He makes the correct observation that the gun laws in this country make it much harder for people to acquire weapons that could wreak mass murder very quickly, as we have seen following the use of semi-automatic assault rifles in places such as New Zealand and the United States. That does not mean that we should ever stop ensuring that when such threats present themselves we put all our resource and, if necessary, our legislation behind making the restrictions that are needed.

Although many people have considered such attacks, they have been unsuccessful in this country because they have simply not been able to get their hands on the type of weapon system that we saw being deployed in New Zealand. Our law enforcement agencies will continue to target both the legal acquisition of weapons by unsuitable people and illegal acquisitions through smuggling, so that we can ensure that our places are safer.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Mar 2019, 4:55 p.m.

Mr Speaker, thank you for granting this urgent question, and it is a credit to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) that she applied for it. I join all Members in passing on condolences to the families and friends of those murdered in this heinous act of terror against people for no other reason than that they were Muslims. We send sympathies to the people of New Zealand, and to those affected by the incident in Surrey and the ongoing situation in Utrecht.

As the Leader of the Opposition has said, an attack on anyone at worship is an attack on all peoples of faith and non-believers too, as they go about their lawful, peaceful business. The harrowing live streaming of events in Christchurch, on the other side of the world, raises questions about the role of social media platforms in facilitating a growing extremism. Although a White Paper on online harm is of course welcome, does the Minister accept that asking online platforms to act is not enough and that we need a new regulator with strong powers to penalise them if they do not curb harmful content?

We must also ensure that our laws and policies are robust and up to date. Will the Minister clarify when the new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation will be appointed and in post? Will he also confirm that lessons will be learned from both domestic and international experience in the forthcoming independent review of the Prevent programme?

I am not suggesting that any political perspective has a monopoly on virtue. Does the Minister agree that such vile acts of hatred show that we must all redouble our efforts to argue for a society of tolerance and respect?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Mar 2019, 4:55 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes many points with which I agree. Tolerance, respect and the underpinning of the British values of democracy and the rule of law are vital in our society, and the more we teach our children about that and the more we clamp down on those who do not believe in that, the better a place we will be.

As for the hon. Gentleman’s questions about the to-be-appointed Prevent reviewer, I cannot speak for that person—

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Mar 2019, 4:55 p.m.

I referred to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Mar 2019, 4:58 p.m.

I will get to that, but the hon. Gentleman did mention the Prevent review. I want the person reviewing Prevent to be as free as possible to examine people’s views, perceptions and evidence, and I would like those who criticise Prevent the most to produce evidence rather than anecdotes. The Government will, of course, listen to whatever the review produces.

I turn to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. Hopefully, the appointment will happen in a matter of days or weeks. We are at an advanced stage in the selection process. Like the hon. Gentleman, I would like an appointment as soon as possible, because no Government benefit without an Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

On new regulations regarding online harm, I know that Opposition Members will be impatient, but they will have to wait for the publication of the online harms White Paper. The document will obviously examine regulation versus voluntary action, but I have said on the record several times that a voluntary system is not enough and that regulation or other methods of encouragement should be explored.

I have also been clear that many online companies are hugely profitable and global, so whatever regulation we explore will have to be deliverable. That is why I met representatives of the G7 in Toronto last year to discuss what the G7 can do collectively; why the Home Secretary attended the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, as did his predecessor, to ensure that countries around the world can get to grips with the problem; and why the European Union is taking forward plans to seek regulations in certain areas, especially the time in which content should be taken down.

If we are to deal with the problem, we must take a layered international approach to regulation—otherwise, companies will simply move their servers to escape their obligations. It is one thing to deal with the big companies that have a nexus here, but there are many tiny companies spreading hate around the world that may have servers in jurisdictions that we cannot reach. That is why we need an international consensus to deal with the challenge.

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Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Wednesday 30 January 2019

(1 year ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
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.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:14 p.m.

As the Security Minister well knows, we have been working constructively on this Bill and I will not be opposing it on Third Reading irrespective of the outcome of various votes, but it is correct to say that, in the case in the summer in respect of which the High Court has just issued its judgment, the American embassy told the Government, when they failed incidentally to seek assurances at all, that if they asked:

“At worst, they will wind the president up to complain to the P.M.”—

the Prime Minister—

“and, potentially, to hold a grudge.”

The Foreign Office’s strong advice was to seek a death penalty assurance, so why on earth did they not do so if it was not for fear of the American President’s reaction?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:15 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman offers an incredibly selective quote from the ruling in the High Court by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales that found in favour of the Government on that case on all five counts. Every single count and every single challenge by Liberty and its glitterati up in the House of Lords failed at that test. The hon. Gentleman has also not answered the central charge, which is that to jeopardise this legislation and the treaty puts at risk children, because our law enforcement officers will not get the data in a timely fashion. Is he happy to accept that that delay should be maintained for the sake of a theoretical, never-happened occasion in the future?

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:16 p.m.

I am in favour of speeding up the data exchange. Under the mutual legal assistance treaty, since 1994 the seeking and securing of assurances has been commonplace. I take this from the High Court judgment. Ministers did not even bother to ask for assurances in the summer, so I am not confident that they have been as robust as they should be in their negotiations with the United States. There is no point in saying there is not equality of arms in this treaty. What if the Minister says that about a trade deal with the US—are we going to be allowing, then, US companies to come and take our NHS? The Minister should stand up for this principle.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:17 p.m.

I am going to stand up for the security of our citizens and a responsible Government have to balance abstract, theoretical, minute probabilities with keeping our constituents safe. Perhaps I should remind the hon. Gentleman of what we found in one of the cases. It is not related to this data, As I have clearly said, this Bill produces not a single example in the last 20 years, but under the MLAT process in the past no assurances have been sought and indeed the Government of the day indicated there was potentially a death penalty. It was a Labour Government who did not seek the assurances and did transfer the data. What does that mean? It means a responsible Government know the balance between keeping our citizens safe and making sure they comply with our international obligations. Members on the Opposition Benches have managed to do that in the past and I hope they do it again.

I have been absolutely clear. The hon. Gentleman may say he would do a better job in the negotiations if Labour was in power but, as I pointed out, we do not have equality of arms. Our negotiating position is this: there is 1% of data here versus about 90% of data there, which means our leverage is minuscule when it comes to demanding strings attached of the United States.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:32 p.m.

I will come to the right hon. Gentleman. All the amendments are grouped, so we have plenty of time.

Having said that, I have to apologise to the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and to the Leader of the Opposition. In her column, the right hon. Lady said that I attacked her personally by criticising what was going on. I apologise that I did so, but I did so because I meant it. That is not the Labour party that I know. I have family in the Labour party. I have a relation who was a Labour MP in the 1930s and, if I remember correctly, the first socialist Lord Advocate in Scotland. The Labour party that I know would not play this type of politics with our constituents. A Labour party led by pretty much any other Labour Member would never have indulged in this type of nonsense.

The Labour party that I know in Lancashire, in the north of England and in Scotland keeps people safe and recognises the responsibility that goes with governing and that there is a balance. It is a truly difficult balance, which people of the best motives make every single day, between upholding values and keeping people safe. That is why I apologise that I had to make that attack, but I made it all the same. It is incredibly important that a Government in waiting should be led by people who recognise that their duty in government will be to make difficult decisions and to reflect the reality of the 21st century, not some abstract theoretical nonsense that panders to a few.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:33 p.m.

I regret the Minister’s tone in places, because it is clear that we have worked together on this Bill and that the Opposition are in favour of it. Let me be clear about the difference here. The Minister is essentially saying that he is happy to be mandated to secure death penalty assurances. Labour’s amendment simply sets out that in the event that assurances are sought but not obtained, the data should not be handed over. As he says, the change will affect a tiny amount of cases, but nobody is disputing the need to speed up the MLAT process to obtain the data. That is exactly what the difference is.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

No. The Labour Front-Bench team are saying that if we do not get what they want, we should block the treaty. The condition from the United States or any other country could be, “Look, I’m terribly sorry, but we have 90% of the data and you have 1%, so here’s our offer and this is the reality of it.” Labour is saying, “If they do not give us the assurances we want”—they go beyond the OSJA guidance and beyond the public policy of this Government and the previous Government—“the treaty will not be completed.” I am here to say that the treaty will not be concluded if those strings are attached in that way. That is the simple reality.

The consequences of that, as I have pointed out, will be felt in our constituencies up and down the country and will also be felt should the Labour Front-Bench team become the Government in a few years’ time. The people could be facing an existential threat to their security, and that Labour Government would have to make these same difficult decisions. We have worked incredibly well together on this Bill, but this issue cannot be removed into some abstract debate when this is about giving our law enforcement agencies the tools to do their job on a day-to-day basis.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 3:02 p.m.

I honestly cannot imagine a situation where a country that gave those assurances did not stand by them. That would undermine the whole system if that were the case. I do need to make some progress now. I hope that the House will realise that I have been generous in giving way to Government Members.

We absolutely agree, as I have said, with speeding up the mechanism, but we believe that in this framework, which will be a framework which many reciprocal treaties will be plugged into in the years to come, we should make clear our opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. The Security Minister has spoken about the United States. I appreciate that that is where much data is held. I also appreciate that that is the treaty that is being negotiated at the moment. First, let us look at what the practice is at the moment. It is obvious that the United States would expect us to require full death penalty assurances prior to sharing this information. It routinely complies with that requirement. It has long been the case, under the 1944 Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters that now exists, that the seeking and securing of assurances is commonplace. What the Opposition are trying to put into law is what has been the norm for decades.

The Minister makes the point about his judgment as to whether or not the US would wish to conclude a treaty in those circumstances—in the circumstances that the House passed the amendment that the Opposition have proposed. I just want to examine this because the recent High Court judgment in El Gizouli, which has been published in recent days, is instructive in this regard. It is very rare that we see Government papers in the public domain so soon after a particular decision is taken. That is because in July last year the House became aware of correspondence between the Home Secretary and the then United States Attorney General that the Government had not sought death penalty assurances at all. Let me be clear that we on these Benches absolutely condemn the actions of the so-called foreign fighters, which is why I have worked with the Minister to put the designated areas offence onto the statute book—it is not quite on our statute book yet, but it will be in due course. I made various suggestions about that matter, as the Minister knows, that were eventually incorporated into the Bill. We supported that principle and it will be on the statute book. However, the fact is that that matter did lead to a court case, which is instructive about Minister’s decision making.

I go back to one of the earlier interventions. This is not about naked partisan politics. These are very serious issues on which Members from all parts of the House have very strongly held opinions, and I respect whatever those perspectives are. A number of things came forward from that case in the summer. The UK embassy in Washington was asked what was the likely response from the US Administration if the UK were to seek full or partial assurances on the death penalty. The response was that

“parts of the US machinery—notably career DOJ officials—would not be surprised if we asked for death penalty assurances. It is what they expect of us.”

That, I suggest, is what I said a moment or two ago. It then added:

“But that doesn’t go for the senior political levels of this administration...At best they will think we have tin ears. At worst, they will wind the President up to complain to the PM and, potentially, to hold a grudge.”

That is worrying to see, and it would not be a way to run any negotiation. It is no surprise really that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office gave strong advice to seek an assurance. This was cited as the Government’s consistent policy over many years, which has been maintained without exception—I appreciate the one point that was made in an intervention by the Minister that there may be an exception to that. I accept that, but this is what the advice says—and without difficulty in co-operating with allies such as the US. It agreed that a sole exception would undermine the UK’s consistent and total opposition. This is what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said about this in the summer:

“Her Majesty’s Government seeks a comprehensive assurance that the suspects will not be subject to the death penalty. This is critical to the consistency with which we apply HMG’s policy on Overseas Security and Justice Assistance…Were we not to apply this practice to this case, it could undermine all future efforts to secure effective written death penalty assurances from the US authorities for future UK security and justice assistance. The exception made for the US in this case could also undermine future attempts to secure similar assurances from other countries with which we have a security relationship... particularly if it seems likely that there is litigation which leads to the disclosure of the level of assurance. It could leave HMG open to accusations of western hypocrisy and double standards which would undermine HMG’s Death Penalty Policy globally, including in the US.”

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 3:07 p.m.

rose—

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 3:07 p.m.

Let me finish this point and then I will give way.

The Foreign Office officials were correct, and I wish that the Ministers had listened in the summer. As the Security Minister knows, this was the subject of an urgent question some months ago to which, I think, he responded.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I wonder whether he will quote at length my response in that court case, the response of the Home Secretary, and, indeed, the other parts of the correspondence. He makes the point about the embassy. The embassy in the United States is the other part of the Foreign Office. He may like to reflect on the fact that, first, we won on all five counts, so he has picked out a few parts of the case, but not the full case. He will also know that, under this and the previous policy, one cannot seek assurances under strong reasons. He talks about hypocrisy. One of the strong reasons—a bit like some of the challenges around data, but he is referring to an MLAT case—is that the alternatives for these individuals for their rights—[Interruption.] No, I get that. The alternatives for those individuals were very much less about their rights—potentially extrajudicial killing in the back of the head and potentially being shipped to Guantanamo, to which we fundamentally object and oppose and, as that case highlighted, something in which we would not assist. The alternative for their human rights was far, far worse than a lawful trial in the United States.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 11:30 a.m.

I am not disputing the outcome of the case; that is very clear. This goes back to the earlier point that I was making about new clause 1. It is clearly not currently set out in primary legislation that there is a duty to seek assurances. I am not questioning the genuine nature of what the Minister does or his decision making, but in that case and against that backdrop, no assurances were sought at all. The Minister has set out the reasons for that, but that is the brutal reality of what happened in that case, against the backdrop of the advice that I have read to the House.

More widely, Governments across the piece—this Government, the coalition Government and previous Labour Governments—have, on numerous occasions, sought to promote the UK’s opposition to the use of the death penalty around the world. There are multiple examples where Governments of all colours have sought to avoid any complicity with the use of capital punishment and have argued around the world for its abolition. In fact, the Prime Minister herself said in the House on 31 October last year:

“Our long-standing position on the death penalty is well known: we call for its abolition globally.”—[Official Report, 31 October 2018; Vol. 648, c. 911.]

And the Opposition say the same.

There are a number of examples where this country has agreed that it is highly undesirable that drugs used by some states in the United States for the purposes of execution could have been sourced here. We have decided not to fund counter-narcotics operations in Iran because of the risk that they could lead to the use of the death penalty. When the Prime Minister was Home Secretary, she triggered a review of all security engagement when Pakistan resumed executions after a long moratorium. Back in October 2016 the Government withdrew a bid to provide offender management services to Saudi Arabian prisons, again over the issue around the death penalty. And of course the UK will not export products for use in capital punishment. That is the well-established position, as is the seeking and securing of assurances.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 3:43 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has campaigned against the death penalty for very many years and who, as co-chair of the all-party group, knows a thing or two about it. I do not think he would say that lightly if he did not feel it.

My shadow made some points about the judgment in the “Beatles” case, which is not of course related specifically to this data, but makes the point about exceptional circumstances. I urge him to read the judgment in full.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 3:44 p.m.

I have.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 3:44 p.m.

Then the hon. Gentleman has quoted so selectively. If he has read it in full, he will know that all five points of allegation—

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 3:44 p.m.

I said that.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

Yes, but the hon. Gentleman did not expand on them. If he had, he would have said, for example, that the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales made it very clear that

“the Government recognises and responds to the realities of political life in the state concerned, whether or not it likes those realities. It would be very odd indeed to ignore them. Ministers, diplomats and other officials are engaged in a constant process of evaluation, making judgements about the differences between what is said and what is meant; between what is threatened, explicitly or implicitly, and what is likely to happen; about the impact of action of the UK. That is what was done here. The Home Secretary had the advice of the British Ambassador…The suggestion that he was not entitled to take it into account and rely on that expert assessment when making his own judgement is misconceived.”

The Lord Chief Justice recognises the political realities within which we operate in the course of trying to keep people safe in this nation. It is a great shame that the shadow Home Secretary cannot manage to recognise those realities when the Lord Chief Justice can.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 4:24 p.m.

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

Throughout the process, the Bill has been about giving our law enforcement agencies a step change in capability to access the vital data needed to investigate some of the worst crimes perpetrated against our constituents. The House has spoken. We examined the Opposition’s amendment 18 and the amendments that mirrored those attempted in the House of Lords. A majority of 53 in rejecting amendment 18 sends a clear notice that Members in this House have considered the delicate balance between obligations and security and have favoured that we should send the Bill back to the Lords with the amendment rejected. I hope that their lordships will reflect on that.

This Bill is about the security of our children and our constituents and about taking up an offer made by President Obama’s Administration to help us with vital investigations where time is of the essence, so that we do not have to go down the long bureaucratic route of the MLAT process, which can take months or years. Indeed, I meet police officers who tell me that they cannot actually progress investigations as a result. When that process of obtaining vital data is turned into days and weeks, this House should be proud not only of our special relationship with the United States that has enabled this to happen, but of the fact that our police will be able to get the necessary data.

Members from across the House often quite rightly complain that data from faraway CSPs, such as Facebook and Google—data that is corrupting the internet and radicalising our families and our children—is being used to prosecute cybercrime and that we need to do more about that. We need to take action to stop such things happening. This Bill contains a strong measure offered by the US Administration, and it means that we will be able to do much more to keep our citizens safe. It is the responsible thing to do.

I have listened to suggestions throughout the Bill’s progress and have taken them into the Bill where and as much as possible, including on the protection and notification of journalists. I hope that the other place recognises the consensual way in which we have made progress on 90% of the Bill. We will be the first nation to have such an arrangement, although there is more work to be done around the treaty.

I do not know whether the Lords will send the Bill back—I pray that they do not—so I will say a grateful thanks to my Parliamentary Private Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare), who has done great work; to the usual channels; and to the Labour and SNP Front-Bench spokespeople, the Democratic Unionist party and the Liberal Democrats, who have all either accommodated offers or had the time to listen to me in private to try to resolve matters. I thank my officials and the Bill manager. This is her first Bill, and she was allocated a Bill that looked so boring and innocuous that there would be no controversy. Little did she know how our friends in the upper House would behave—I can only apologise for that. I thank the team for doing a sterling job. I hope that the Bill does not return and that we can look forward to its coming into law.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 4:26 p.m.

I echo the Minister in saying that 90% of the Bill has been consensual, and a number of parties, including the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Labour and others, have sought to contribute constructively throughout its passage.

The issue of death penalty assurances generated a great deal of controversy, but the Minister will have noticed that I indicated earlier that we would be supporting the Bill on Third Reading, irrespective of the outcome of previous votes. That remains our position, and I join him in his frustration with the slowness of the MLAT process. MLAT is a well-established process but, clearly, we need to look at speeding it up, and this Bill is a mechanism by which we can do that.

The Minister rightly focuses on America, partly because of the extent of the data it holds and partly because that treaty has been negotiated, and it will be a framework for other reciprocal treaties all around the world. Of course, he would expect me and the Opposition to scrutinise every single one of those treaties when they come before the House in due course. Parties on both sides of the House share the long-cherished principle of international human rights.

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

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 22 January 2019

(1 year ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:59 p.m.

My right hon. Friend knows about these challenges from his own experience. In some parts of Northern Ireland terrorism is entirely ingrained in organised crime, with the money and control of the community organised crime seeks to exert. The Criminal Finances Act 2017, which I took through the House about two years ago, brought in measures that will be very useful for combating illicit finance, whether it is being used to finance terrorism or organised crime. That legislation is being extended to cover Northern Ireland, which will allow us to get to grips with some of the godfathers who have helped to fund that terrorism in the first place.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3 p.m.

I am grateful to the Security Minister for his opening remarks, and for his tone and the consensual approach he has taken. We most definitely do not agree on everything, and we have robust exchanges across the Dispatch Box, but we try to work together constructively on these serious matters whenever we can. I am grateful to him for accepting Lords amendment 1 to clause 3, which has caused controversy in the past. The clause deals with a situation in which it was previously illegal to download these terrible recruiting videos but not illegal to stream them. We have to have a situation in which both are illegal. We cannot have a situation in which watching something later on is illegal but watching it at the time is not. This has been difficult to deal with, and there is no perfect way to capture it in legislation.

As the Minister knows, I was also concerned about the three clicks approach, and I am pleased that the Government have dropped it. Dropping it has not, as some suggested, led to a situation in which one click could lead to an offence being committed. The Bill sets out clearly that anyone inadvertently clicking in that way would not be covered by the offence. I was concerned that the reasonable excuse defence mechanism had been put on to the face of the Bill, particularly in relation to journalists and academics, and I am pleased that the Government have now accepted those concessions. It is clear that in the years ahead we will have to look at precisely how the clause works in practice, but it is important to send a clear message that streaming these terrible videos is equally as awful as downloading them and watching them later on.

On designated areas, the Security Minister quoted what I said in the Commons because this measure was introduced at a very late stage and I was unable to have that discussion with him in Committee. We do not oppose the overall aim of dealing with so-called foreign fighters, but the clause needed significant work. Again, I am pleased with the work that has been done and I pay tribute to my Labour colleagues in the Lords and those of other parties there who have put in the work and time to improve the clause. I am also grateful to the Minister for accepting the changes.

There was originally a non-exhaustive list of reasonable excuse defences on the face of the Bill. This has essentially been taken and carved into the law itself, so that people do not commit the offence in the first place if they have a particular purpose for travelling. That was important for two reasons. First, someone with a perfectly legitimate reason for doing something would inevitably have been stopped, and would have been able to raise the reasonable excuse defence only further down the line. It is therefore much better in principle that they do not commit the offence in the first place. Secondly, the last thing anyone in this House wants is to deter people with a perfectly reasonable motive from going to areas of conflict. Aid workers are an example, and I know that the Chair of the International Development Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) has tabled an amendment on that.

For completeness, Lords amendment 3 states that the offence is not committed if one or more of the purposes of the visit is to provide

“aid of a humanitarian nature…carrying out work for the government of a country other than the United Kingdom…carrying out work for the United Nations or an agency of the United Nations…carrying out work as a journalist…attending the funeral of a relative or visiting a relative who is terminally ill…providing care for a relative who is unable to care for themselves”.

That is not meant to be an exhaustive list.

In addition, the reasonable excuse defence is maintained. This relates to the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby. The reason is that if no exception is already carved into the law and the purpose of the visit is not included in the list, it could none the less appear as a reasonable excuse defence. In an intervention on the Minister, the hon. Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster) talked about a burden in these cases. With the reasonable excuse defence, there is of course a burden on the defendant to raise it, but the burden to disprove it lies with the prosecution. In the carve-outs in the law that I have suggested, however, these people would not be committing the offence in the first place.

I want to press the Security Minister on how exactly this is going to work in practice. As he knows, there are two models around the world: the Australian model, which I think the sunset clause has been taken from, and the Danish model. The way the Danish model works in terms of not committing the offence in the first place involves an extensive system in which people obtain licences before they go. That is not without its problems, because journalists sometimes like to travel to certain areas without advertising the fact that they are doing so, so I am not suggesting that this would be a silver bullet or a magic solution. However, there will presumably have to be a system whereby we can show clearly that someone has not committed the offence in the first place, as against those situations in which there might be a reasonable suspicion that an offence had been committed and in which the reasonable excuse defence was raised later. Any details from the Minister on how this will work would be appreciated.

The other Lords amendments on these issues are also important. They include the introduction of a sunset clause for the statutory instruments to designate particular areas so that they cease to apply and have to be replaced. This will ensure that the Government regularly make the case to Parliament if they wish to continue with a designation in the long term. Lords amendments 7 and 8 relate to two additional concessions. Lords amendment 7 provides that the Government have to make a statement outlining why they believe an area needs to be designated at the same time as they lay the relevant statutory instrument. Similarly, Lords amendment 8 states that when the Government revoke a designation, the change must be subject to the negative resolution procedure in Parliament in case anyone wishes to object to it. Taken together, the amendments produce a much better clause in relation to the designated areas. It will allow the Government to tackle the problem of so-called foreign fighters, of which we are all conscious, but it now does so in a more balanced, fair way, without deterring those who wish to travel to areas of conflict for perfectly honourable and legitimate reasons. No one in the House would wish to prevent them from doing that.

There are three other broad themes to the amendments in this group. The first relates to extraterritorial jurisdiction, which the Minister will be aware I have raised before in a slightly different context. The Government added extraterritorial jurisdiction to the offence of inviting or recklessly expressing support for a proscribed organisation, and concern was expressed about that by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Committee was concerned that the extension of extraterritorial jurisdiction to certain offences was problematic when there was no equivalent offence in the country involved. The safeguard will now ensure that extraterritorial jurisdiction applies only if the offence was committed by a UK national or UK resident. That is in line with what the Joint Committee recommended, and I welcome that change.

Turning to the independent review of the Prevent strategy, I genuinely welcome the Security Minister’s acceptance that a review is required, and I give credit to the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), who has argued for one for some considerable time. As the Security Minister knows, I have visited Prevent programmes across the country, including in south Wales. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty) also raised the issue of far-right terrorism, which this House must be conscious of and take action on.

My argument about the independent review of Prevent is that there is a concern that its aims may end up in conflict with or become slightly confused between intelligence gathering, what I would call the more welfarist or safeguarding aspect of Prevent, and community cohesion. There has been an issue around community cohesion, because the facilities that are available to local authorities, for example, are an important part of that. I have had conversations in which it was clear that the pressures on local authority services are really affecting Prevent’s ability to deliver.

There are also aspects or parts of our society—in fairness to the Security Minister, he pointed this out himself—that have lost faith in the programme, and it is time to look at that. We need a programme in which everyone can have faith. None of us wants to see people living a life of violence and hatred that is driven by these kinds of ideologies. We all want to prevent people from doing that, but let us do so in the most effective way. From our conversations, I am hopeful that the Security Minister will be keen to have a wide-ranging review that can deal with such issues.

While I am on the subject of Prevent, I know that the competition to become the new independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has now closed to applications, and I hope that someone new will be appointed soon. I hope, too, that the Minister will be receptive to suggestions about how exactly to construct this independent review, so that we can have the most robust and reliable conclusions possible and, if necessary, make appropriate changes.

Lords amendment 16 is another sensible amendment, relating to bank accounts or terrorist’s bank accounts. There was an issue in the law as originally drafted in that the account would have to be in the name of a particular person. Of course, that did not take into account the fact that people can have control of other people’s bank accounts by their behaviour, and it is important that that was covered in the legislation as well.

Taken together, all the Lords amendments make this legislation far better, and it is pleasing that we end the passage of this Bill on a note of significant consensus.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:55 p.m.

This group of amendments relates to the new port and border powers in schedule 3 to the Bill to tackle hostile state activity, as well as to the existing counter-terrorism ports powers in schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000. I will focus my remarks on the substantive amendments.

During the passage of the Bill through this House, the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) has pressed the Government on whether there is an alternative to the power exercisable in exceptional circumstances for a police officer to be in the sight and hearing of a consultation between an individual detained under schedule 3 and their solicitor. While the Government were clear that safeguards were needed to prevent the right to consult a solicitor from being abused, thereby potentially putting lives at risk, the hon. Gentleman argued that such a provision would undermine the principle of confidentiality of consultations between lawyer and client.

On Report in September, I undertook to consider the issue further. Where there are concerns about a detainee’s chosen solicitor, Lords amendments 35 to 37, 39 and 40 would allow a senior police officer to direct that the individual consult a different solicitor. In practice, that is likely to be the duty solicitor. This provision is modelled on the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984—PACE—code H and reflects the suggestion made by the Law Society in its evidence to the Public Bill Committee in June last year. The change will apply to persons detained under both schedule 3 to the Bill and schedule 7 to the 2000 Act. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that this change adequately addresses the concerns that he raised.

Lords amendment 25 provides for a procedure to enable the urgent examination of a detainee’s property, including confidential journalistic or legally privileged material, in cases where there is an imminent threat to life or significant injury, or where there is an imminent threat of a hostile act being carried out. In such cases, the police must be able to act with immediate effect and, consequently, the usual process whereby any such examination must be approved in advance by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner cannot apply.

These Lords amendments to schedule 3 would instead allow an examining officer, with the approval of a senior officer, to examine a detainee’s property before a decision has been made by the commissioner. Under this exceptional procedure, authorisation would be required to be given or withheld by the commissioner or a judicial commissioner after the event. Where the commissioner withholds authorisation, he would have the power to direct that the property be returned and that information taken from it, including copies, is not used and destroyed.

As with the existing process provided for in the Bill, the commissioner’s decision will be taken after consideration of any representations made by affected parties, and there will also be an opportunity to appeal that decision where it has been delegated to a judicial commissioner. That approach is consistent with the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the case of Miranda, where the Court recognised that there might be a need for

“post factum oversight in urgent cases”.

Further details of the process for examining retained property, including where it contains confidential material, will be set out in the schedule 3 code of practice, which must be debated and approved by both Houses before the provisions in schedule 3 can come into force. These Lords amendments improve the provisions in the Bill, and I commend them to the House.

At present, the schedule 7 code of practice requires that an individual examined under schedule 7 is informed of their rights on first being detained. There is analogous provision in the draft schedule 3 code of practice. The Joint Committee on Human Rights suggested that this protection for detainees is sufficiently important that it should be provided for on the face of the Bill and not left to a code of practice. The Government were content to accept the Joint Committee’s recommendation, and Lords amendments 33, 34 and 38 provide for that.

Lords amendments 41 and 42 respond to a recommendation from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. The Committee argued that the regulation- making power in paragraph 53 of schedule 3 is too widely drawn. Under that power, the Home Secretary must specify additional categories of persons with whom information acquired by an examining officer may be shared. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee pointed out that this regulation-making power places no limitation on the categories of persons who could be specified for those purposes, including an organisation in the private sector. Lords amendment 41 narrows the schedule 3 regulation-making power so that it can be used only to specify persons carrying out public functions, and Lords amendment 42 makes a similar change to the Terrorism Act 2000. I commend these amendments to the House.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4 p.m.

I again welcome the approach that the Security Minister has taken in reaching consensus on these matters.

First, and this is a very important principle, in this Bill we have maintained and preserved the right to receive legal advice in private. It is a very important principle and, as the Security Minister knows, I pressed him on it at a very early stage of and throughout the proceedings on the Bill. There was a concern either that someone who had been stopped and detained would use the ability to contact a lawyer to communicate the fact that they had been stopped—in other words, to contact someone who was not a lawyer—or, alternatively, that a genuine lawyer was contacted but that the lawyer would then somehow, inadvertently or otherwise, pass on information about the stop. I pressed the Minister on the solution that is now in the Bill at quite an early stage about a kind of duty solicitor scheme that could deal with both of those concerns, but also ensure that we preserved the very important right of legal advice in private. I am pleased that we have reached this stage on the Bill and that the Government have made that concession.

I now turn to a set of Lords amendments, starting with Lords amendment 14, on the urgent procedure for retaining and copying property at the border. I have looked at the Court of Appeal judgment in the David Miranda case. As the Minister says, the judgment, at paragraph 96, identified that there is

“no provision for authorisation by a court or other independent and impartial decision-making body in a case involving journalistic material prior to the use of the Schedule 7 power or, in an urgent case, immediately after the obtaining of the material pursuant to the exercise of the power.”

I fully accept that there are going to be very urgent situations, and this is expressed in terms of an imminent threat of loss of life or of injury. I am pleased to hear what the Minister has said about the code of practice, which we can look at in due course. I previously suggested that there could be situations where a decision maker was available at the end of a telephone line, but I appreciate that there will be truly exceptional cases. The key to this is that, while I fully accept the law needs to be brought into line with what has been suggested in the Miranda case, we have to understand that these must be truly exceptional cases. That is something we can set when we come to debate the code of practice, being very clear that in these particular circumstances there will have to be a genuine, imminent threat that needs to be dealt with. Again, however, bringing the law into line with what the Court of Appeal has suggested is, on the whole, to be welcomed.

I want to speak to two other sets of Lords amendments. I will start with Lords amendments 17, 19, 26, 28 and 29 on the definition of hostile activity. The difficulty is that if this is defined purely in terms of criminal activity, that does not capture other types of hostile espionage activity, which may not necessarily bring into play parts of the criminal law. I did think that there was a danger of this being drawn too broadly, and I am pleased that these amendments narrow the definition, so that when we talk about threatening the economic wellbeing of the UK, we have now added

“in a way relevant to the interests of national security”.

The key is to ensure that we have the powers we need while also being precise about what we consider “hostile activity” to be. It is a welcome amendment that improves the Bill.

Finally, Lords amendments 41 and 42 relate to information sharing. Schedule 3 provides that an officer questioning someone at the border can hand over information to appropriate bodies, as decided by the Secretary of State. I think that narrowing the provision to bodies exercising public functions is to be welcomed, but I have regularly made the point to the Minister during the passage of the Bill that bodies such as local authorities will need the appropriate resources, expertise and support to handle the information, particularly when it is likely to be highly sensitive.

Taken together, I think that the Lords amendments that I have spoken to, covering the four themes I have referenced, make the Bill a better and more effective piece of legislation, although I am keen to engage with the Minister when the codes of practice to which he referred come before both Houses.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 21 January 2019

(1 year ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 3:12 p.m.

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. It is in all our interests to ensure that our financial sector and country tackle financial crime. The global scale of it demands that all of us play our part to burden-share, which is why the serious and organised crime strategy last year specifically committed to ensuring the widest response from both Government and the private sector.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 3:12 p.m.

A year ago, the Government introduced unexplained wealth orders to tackle the laundromat of dirty money in this country. It is reported that the National Crime Agency has identified 140 cases in which such an order would be appropriate, but only one order has been imposed in the past year. Why are the Government afraid of using the tools available to them?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity to clarify some of his remarks. First, those orders were not introduced—enacted—until April last year, so they have not been used for a year; and two, not one, have been used. At the same time, the Criminal Finances Act 2017 brought into existence asset-freezing orders. In one year, since April, we have seen asset-freezing orders used 200 times alone in the Metropolitan police, freezing over £40 million. I assure him that the use of unexplained wealth orders will continue. However, he will know as a lawyer that the courts and the judiciary have to get used to understanding them, and we have to understand how the courts interpret the legislation; but he should not worry, the asset-freezing orders are doing their job, as will the unexplained wealth orders.

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

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 18 December 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Read Full debate
Public Bill Committees
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 9:28 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 1, in clause 1, page 1, line 20, leave out subsections (5) and (6).

This amendment removes subsections (5) and (6) from Clause 1 of the Bill. These subsections concern the designation of international agreements under section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

It is a delight to serve under your chairmanship today, Mrs Moon. I thank hon. Members for having listened in a consensual manner on Second Reading. This should not be a controversial piece of legislation. As people know, the Bill is designed as a docking station to give power to our law enforcement agencies to go to our courts to seek orders for the production of data overseas. It is about removing bureaucratic barriers to our law enforcement and allowing investigations to be concluded in a timely manner—often very quickly, compared with the delays of up to two years that can sometimes be experienced abroad. Fundamentally, it is a piece of legislation about UK law enforcement’s request for inward-coming data, so that our law enforcement can seek from the courts data from overseas. I ask hon. Members to bear that in mind.

At the moment, the majority of communications service providers, such as Facebook and Google, hold their data in the United States. It is therefore obvious that one of the countries we will seek to sign a treaty with so that it recognises these court orders is the United States. No doubt there will be one with the European Union at a future date. More than 90% of the data resides in the United States, so when our law enforcement tracks paedophiles, terrorists or organised crime, it is very important that we have timely access to it. At the moment, we go from the United Kingdom to the US Department of Justice to a US court to a CSP, and then it goes back down the line. In some cases, that can take up to two years and, regretfully, some cases have been abandoned as a result of that delay, while all the time offenders are abusing.

I have tabled an amendment today to remove from clause 1 the additional sections added by the House of Lords on international agreements. Subsections (5) and (6) of clause 1, which were added in the Lords, will prevent the Government and all future Governments from designating international agreements under section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 with a country that retains capital punishment, unless assurances have been received.

I understand the strength of feeling on this issue and am grateful to Members of both Houses for their contributions. I have listened carefully to their arguments, including those made in the House of Lords. I want us to work together to reach a position that we can all support ahead of Report. However, if the Lords amendments stand, they will put at risk the Bill itself and any future treaty with the United States or, potentially, any other country. Live international negotiations do not work where the host Government—this Government or any future Government—can have their hands tied in this manner. It would prevent our making a negotiation and could effectively disqualify us from getting where we are trying to get to with the United States.

The Bill is about producing the power for a court to make an order in the United Kingdom. Subsequent scrutiny of any international treaty that we seek to make will be done through the normal processes of Parliament. We would table any international treaty for ratification in both Houses, providing 21 working days for scrutiny. Anyone in the House can object to the treaty as formed. If they do not like the terms of the international treaty, that is how they can register their objections or stop it going ahead.

The Bill is agnostic about the countries that we might make a treaty with. That is for the treaty itself. While I understand what is at stake here and what the Lords amendments try to achieve, the principle would be absolutely the same with a Labour Government, as it has been in the past, or any other Government. We should resist attempts in primary legislation to bind our position in negotiations that have not yet concluded and have not come to the House. I believe that would be upheld by any sitting Government.

When it comes to death penalty assurances, it is a fact that under the last three Governments over the past two decades, there have been very rare occasions—two occasions—when a Government have felt that there have been exceptional circumstances and either a death penalty assurance has not been sought when exchanging evidence or one been sought but not been achieved, and the exchange of evidence has nevertheless progressed. That has happened incredibly rarely, but it did happen under the Labour Government in the early 2000s and under the coalition Government when Liberal Democrats Member were in the Department. A legal case is currently outstanding about an occasion when it happened under this Government.

It is not that this or any other Government have wantonly done it with enthusiasm, but there may be occasions when something so egregious has happened to a friend and ally that we make a decision that it is not for us to dictate such stringent terms to that ally in our decision to help keep us all secure or to balance the needs of security with the needs of human rights. I could give an example, but the terms of the confidentiality involved mean that we are unable to do so.

Suffice it to say that a fictional example could be that someone in this country has launched a biological weapon—or, at least, a horrendous weapon—that has caused death and destruction to thousands of people in the United States. That person manages to make it back here and the United States seeks evidence from us about that individual. If there is no evidence in this country to charge him or her with an offence, the Government would have to decide whether evidence about the individual should be shared with the United States authorities. There may be occasions when the US authorities say, “Look, we cannot guarantee that what you do with that evidence will not lead to a death sentence, either indirectly or directly. We cannot do that.” This Government or a future Government might realise that the individual poses a real threat—we do not want him residing here any more than anyone else would want him residing anywhere else—and in that position there would be very strong reasons why, if a death penalty assurance was not received, we should share the evidence.

That would be sharing evidence with a country such as the United States or the European Union that has due process, fair trials, independent defence and an independent judiciary, and therefore meets all our values and matches our view of the rule of law, so this is not about making an agreement with a country that does not have the rule of law. It is a very difficult choice, but ultimately the duty of Government is to keep us safe and that is why the Lords amendment puts at risk not only this Bill but the treaties that we could potentially sign and the ability to keep people safe in the United Kingdom.

Let me be very clear that if the Bill was not able to proceed, that would mean that in the 99.9% of cases that are not attached to a death penalty at all—indeed, I have said that there have only been three occasions in 20 years where Governments have been involved in cases where there is a potential death penalty, and interestingly enough in two cases there was not one—offenders such as the people I referred to on Second Reading, who had serially abused children for the most horrendous crimes, will be able to continue to abuse with a longer timetable for being caught. At the heart of my mission is to catch those people as soon as possible.

That is the choice that right hon. and hon. Members are making with this legislation. We can stand on a totally purist principle of absolute opposition, irrespective of strong reasons or exceptional reasons, or we can decide that we have to balance the security needs of our constituents and our national security with the Government’s duty towards human rights and to observe the European convention on human rights. It is not an easy balance and it is sometimes tested in the extremes, but I cannot look right hon. and hon. Members in the face and say, “This consideration is so necessary that I would be willing to put at risk the cases that I have seen, as Security Minister, of child abuse, where the data is stored in America.” I do not think any hon. Member in this House, of whatever party, would be able to say to their constituents that they would put that at risk.

I am happy to provide the Committee with example after example after example of seriously dangerous people’s behaviour towards our children and our friends, and also of terrorists plotting mass-casualty events, where this Bill will help incredibly our law enforcement agencies to get the evidence they need.

The example that I used on Second Reading was of a man—Matthew Falder—so egregious in his abuse that he abused hundreds of people across the world using highly specialised encryption. He was an academic. He persuaded people to commit suicide, or to abuse themselves. He set up chatrooms that people were only qualified to enter by bringing their own images of abuse of children to that chatroom, where they could then share those images among themselves.

When our law enforcement agencies come across these chatrooms or follow the leads, people do not use their real names. Sometimes, one sees things from outside the chatroom and all one sees is a jumble of numbers. We might hear them speaking. We might see, as I have done, some of the footage. Therefore, getting the data from the CSPs, 90% of which is in the United States, is vital for us to do our job and to bring those people to justice. In fact, the first efforts are to stop them abusing, and then to bring them to justice.

That is the difficult choice that we have to make in Government. It is the Government’s responsibility. The last Labour Government recognised that choice, because their internal advice on such events was that in exceptional circumstances they did not need to seek or require death penalty assurances. The coalition Government went further and, for the first time, published something called OSJA—overseas security and justice assistance—guidance. It is a publicly available document with a very clear guideline about what we need to do to uphold our human rights obligations. However, under paragraph 9(b), where there are strong reasons not to seek assurances, we can proceed without them.

That was a public document—never published by any previous Government—that was published under the coalition Government, via the Foreign Office. It was a landmark and it truly opened up the whole process of risk and balance that people go through. I was not the Security Minister at the time, but none of us received any objections. No political party in this House made an issue of it. I did not hear any objections from the Scottish National party, the Labour party or the Liberal Democrats, who were part of the Government at the time, and it stood as a serious piece of work, and still does.

All we seek in the Bill is to reflect that. I therefore hope that hon. Members will support our efforts to get the legislation through the House and to make a treaty with the United States, and other countries as required, in a way that allows us to uphold our values, but recognises that the Government have to balance that with their duty, which is often not easy but is necessary, to keep us safe. That is why we will remove the amendment made in the Lords and progress the Bill, which I do not believe is controversial. I also do not believe that the amendment tabled in the Lords has anything to do with the legislation, which is about empowering a court order. If the Lords want to object to the treaty that we make with the United States, they can do that through the ratification process that takes place in this House and in the House of Lords when, hopefully, it arrives at a later date.

I am afraid that there are high stakes. I wish that I could tell the United States what to do and bind its hands, but I simply cannot. The reality of international negotiations is that none of us holds all the cards. We all have to negotiate, just as I negotiate with Her Majesty’s official Opposition, and just as I negotiate with the Scottish National party. That is what we do. I cannot speak for the Scottish National party any more than the Scottish National party can speak for me. [Interruption.] The tartan Tories! Similarly, I cannot speak for international communities.

I therefore commend our amendment to remove the additions that were made in the House of Lords, so that we can get on with the important job of protecting our constituents, while having the highest regard for our obligations under the European convention on human rights.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard

It is a pleasure to serve with you as Chair this morning, Mrs Moon. The Opposition oppose the attempt to remove the amendment that was inserted into the Bill in the other place. Indeed, I am grateful to my Labour colleagues in the other place, where the Bill started, for their persistence and success in securing the amendment. On Report in the other place, Lord Rosser outlined the Opposition’s concerns and, indeed, Labour’s position on the death penalty. However, I point out that the amendment in the House of Lords proceeded on a multi-party basis, with support from other political parties.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

No, I am not using the wrong vehicle. This plug-in mechanism will have an impact on many other treaties. My answer to the hon. Gentleman is a rhetorical one: if we do not make a stand here, where will we make a stand? The idea that this huge amount of data and information relating to cases that do not carry the death penalty will be put at risk for a small number of cases—three in 20 years, as the Minister said—is, to my mind, not the most credible position.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 9:52 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman fails to recognise that there is no equality of arms here. Because of the creation and development of the internet, 90%-plus of the data we need is held in the United States. If it were 50:50 or 60:40, it would be different. The United States has been absolutely categorical with us that, should we adopt the principle of effectively telling it how to conduct its justice system, it will not proceed with the treaty. That is the choice in the real world that I, as the Minister with responsibility for this, have to make. Do I like it? No. Do I have to make the decision? Yes—that is a fact. There is no conjecture about whether the United States will or will not: it will not. In addition, it holds 90% of the data. If the hon. Gentleman would like to like to come here so we can change the law together on how we store data, I would be delighted to do that, but that is a fact. That is the reality that I have to live with. Therefore, if he knows that the United States will not do that, does he recognise that the implication of supporting the amendment made in the Lords is that the Bill will fall over?

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I do not for a minute question the Minister’s perspective, but let me just say this. We are talking about the United States which, as he rightly points out, at this moment in time holds the substantial majority of CSP data. That is the treaty that is being negotiated. This Bill could be used for treaty plug-ins for many other countries. What if in eight, nine or 10 years down the line, it is not the United States that still holds the majority of CSP data? What if it is another country that does not have a particularly attractive human rights record? Will the Minister say the same thing—that it does not matter?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 9:53 a.m.

We can debate that when we make the country-by-country treaty. That is the difference between this Bill and the treaty. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues will have plenty of time to scrutinise the international treaties as they come before this House and the Lords under the process that has been well established. That is the time to scrutinise the decisions we have come to, and whether we agree or disagree to make the case at that time. It is perfectly possible to refuse to ratify the treaty.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 9:54 a.m.

It seems to me that the Minister is saying that there are circumstances in which he would make a different judgment. His judgment to me is that now is not the time to make a stand. Respectfully, I have to disagree with him. I believe that now is the moment to make a stand. The Opposition oppose the removal of the amendment.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 9:59 a.m.

I have listened to the SNP, and I am happy to look at further scrutiny of those decisions when we consider exceptional circumstances. The SNP, having been in government in Scotland for a long time, will know that Governments very occasionally encounter circumstances where they have to make difficult decisions. If the hon. Gentleman is looking for more scrutiny, we are absolutely happy to provide that. We are also happy to provide in the Bill a primary obligation to seek death penalty assurances in a way that has never been done before. We are happy to look at that.

What we cannot do is seek and acquire those assurances, because we are not in charge of the other country. We can certainly bind our hands to seek it in primary legislation and to explain why we have made an exceptional circumstance. I have no objection to trying to reach that position. My challenge is in the absolute. My challenge is in the bit where there is absolutely no position for a Government to make a choice or decision that is so exceptional that something has to be done. It was never any different with the previous Labour Government. In fact, a Secretary of State of that Government did exactly that when push came to shove, and the details around that are even more extreme.

Never did I hear an objection about the overseas security and justice assistance document, which is a public document that has been in circulation since 2014. It is not from the shadow Attorney General or the Liberal Democrat shadow Attorney General. It says absolutely clearly in part 9:

“Where no assurances are forthcoming or where there are strong reasons not to seek assurances, the case should automatically be deemed ‘High Risk’”—

I think we recognise that and agree on it—

“and FCO Ministers should be consulted to determine whether, given the specific circumstances of the case, we should nevertheless provide assistance.”

That is the reality.

If this is about making a stand, what has been the Labour party’s stand been since 2014, or since 2000, when it was carrying out these things? I venture that it has not taken that stand because it knows that in government—it aspires to be a Government sooner rather than later—it might have to make those decisions. That is why members of the Committee are seeking not to agree that amendment. We can offer more assurances and scrutiny of that decision, but as the Minister of State for Security, I make the decision to try to help our law enforcement agencies catch these people time and again, and I cannot bind their hands 100%. The United States has made it clear that we will not be able to progress with the treaty if the amendment falls in the legislation in the way it does.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:04 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 7, in clause 1, page 2, line 10, leave out “or prosecution”.

This amendment would refine the definition of international agreement which could serve as the basis for an order.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I will deal with these three amendments quite quickly because, in essence, they would all do the same thing: bring the provisions in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Specifically, they would limit the use of the information to an investigation, rather than investigation and proceedings. That is the position set out in the 1984 Act.

To be clear, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act outlines that material may be used when it is likely to be of substantial value to an investigation. It does not use the term “prosecution”. Paragraphs 2 and 14 of schedule 1 to the Act detail that applications can be made of material if they benefit the investigation. For overseas production orders, however, the clause also details the term “prosecution”. Our simple position is that, in so far as is possible, the provisions should be in line with those of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, rather than those of the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, given the nature of the cases that the Bill will deal with.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:06 a.m.

I understand that the Bill is not the most exciting piece of legislation, but after the first vote the Labour party lost three of its Committee members, who have gone off to do something else. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton South West, for example, has done a bunk—I shall go through the others as we proceed. [Interruption.] The Scottish National party is present in all its yellow glory. The Bill might not be exciting, but I do not think that Members should turn up for the controversial vote and then do a bunk. We should recognise that this legislation is incredibly important to our law enforcement community and our constituents.

I understand that the hon. Member for Torfaen is concerned about the additional proceedings in relation to serving an overseas production order while PACE refers only to the investigation. However, I believe that PACE has been misread in this regard. Nothing in law says that an investigation ceases once proceedings have been brought to court. Indeed, PACE does not state anywhere—I do not believe it infers this either—that orders may be used only up until someone is charged.

The operational partners we work closely with have made it clear that, in the context of applying for production orders under PACE, they do not consider an investigation to have come to an end until convictions have been secured. It is common for new evidence to come to light and to be obtained throughout the criminal process after charge. Evidence gathering is not limited to the investigation. I believe that it is highly unlikely that a court would construe PACE so narrowly that the police could lose access to investigative tools once the person has been charged.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:08 a.m.

The Minister seems to be making the case that there is little practical difference between the two, but my point is that PACE does not include the word “prosecution.” Where has the wording for the Bill come from, because it does not mirror PACE?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:08 a.m.

I understand. I suspect that the wording just comes from the parliamentary draftsmen. Given no significant difference, as I am explaining, the wording was simply put in that way.

As I was saying, that interpretation would be perverse, and it would have an impact not only on the prosecution but on the defence, given the duty on the police to exhaust avenues of inquiry even if they point away from the defendant’s guilt. The COPO Bill therefore deliberately references “proceedings” to make it clear that orders are available for all stages of the investigation. That was influenced by language used in section 7 of the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003, which deals with a request for assistance when obtaining evidence from abroad.

I reiterate that, despite the difference in the language used, the Government do not intend any difference in effect between the Bill and PACE in that regard. We do not consider that the use of the word “proceedings” in the Bill increases the likelihood of “criminal proceedings” in PACE being interpreted unduly narrowly. PACE will continue to be available to law enforcement agencies once proceedings have begun for use up to charge and beyond.

The hon. Member for Torfaen has suggested that once a trial begins the investigation is often handed over from law enforcement agencies to the Crown Prosecution Service, but it is still possible that—this happens a lot—the law enforcement agencies that were investigating the crime will then come across new evidence, which of course they would share with the prosecuting authorities. I therefore ask him to withdraw the amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I do not disagree with anything the Minister has said in that interpretation. The point I was trying to probe was the difference in the wording. On the basis of the Minister’s assurances that the wording comes from somewhere else but that he does not expect there to be a substantial difference, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:11 a.m.

The amendment deals with the concern over what has been described as a free pass for overseas authorities to access data in the UK. Again, the issue is a fairly discrete one, on which I hope the Minster will be able to comment and give some reassurance. In its current form, the Bill allows the Government to enter into agreements with foreign Governments to enable reciprocal access to data stored in the United Kingdom. The concern is that there are no appropriate safeguards to compel the position in other countries with regard to freedom of the press, mirroring those that we have in the United Kingdom. From comments that the Minister made in a different context in a previous discussion, it may be that that is something we take into account before a particular country is considered for negotiation for such a treaty, but I would appreciate it if that was set out.

The concern is that we create a back door for overseas Governments to bypass procedures and protections laid out in the United Kingdom. Put simply, we could have a situation whereby a country that does not have our standards of press freedom is able to access something that has been obtained by journalists in this country. What assurances can the Minister give on the considerations that would be taken into account on that issue before any treaty was entered into with another country?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:13 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point, and I recognise the slight difference between this amendment and amendments 13 and 14, in which he deals with confidentiality. First, as I pointed out earlier, hon. Members are talking about incoming requests for UK-held data, but the Bill relates only to the UK’s outgoing requests for electronic data held overseas. I completely accept the point that the Bill cannot work without a reciprocal international agreement in place, but amendments 15 and 18 are directly related to the international agreement, as opposed to what our Bill provides for.

The Bill is simply not the right place to mandate what is, I agree, a right and laudable protection for journalists and their data. We cannot impose these conditions in advance of negotiations on an international agreement. In my view, this goes back to the principle of allowing the Government of the day to have those negotiations without necessarily having their hands tied. Of course, the UK would never agree to share data with a country that had insufficient safeguards—not as long as I am the Minister and this is our Government. I do not think that it is necessary or helpful to mandate this in the Bill.

The amendments, which seek to control the Government’s negotiating position before they have begun considering future international agreements, would not prove desirable to any Government. However, I remind hon. Members that they will get ample opportunity to scrutinise any international agreement, both when the agreement is designated and again, ahead of ratification, under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. The Government already amended the Bill in the other place to provide that extra level of scrutiny of all international agreements.

The first, most immediate and most important international agreement will be, I hope, with the United States. As hon. Members know, the US has an even higher regard for protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press than the UK has, as set out in the first amendment to its constitution. In addition, the US-UK agreement has been drafted to be fully compliant with EU law. If hon. Members want to know how strong the US holds the first amendment to be, I tell them that when they lobby me about neo-Nazi websites hosted in the United States—as they often do—and we seek to have them taken down because of the vile extremism that they spout, our challenge is that under the first amendment it is extremely hard, even domestically, for the US to do that.

To some extent, we would not have the same problem—well, let us hope not—but the US definitely has that problem. That is an example of how these international agreements will be between like-minded countries with similar values and rights, the rule of law and so on. In this case, on the journalistic issue, the US has a stronger protection than we currently have in the European Union. That is why we have done this in the way we have.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:16 a.m.

I do not disagree with much of what the Minister says, and I take his point about the scope of the Bill. The point I was driving at is that if we had a treaty with a country that did not have the same laws about freedom of the press, that would obviously create a concern. I think the Minister is saying, in effect, that that would be taken into account before a treaty was finalised in any event. Is that correct?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:17 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman is right on that. I cannot speak for the next Government, but the Bill is about our requests to our courts, and this Government would not enter into an agreement with a Government that went around oppressing the press and the media. Despite the fake news, this Government believe that journalism and the press are vital to exposing the truth, corruption and everything else, and we absolutely would do all we could to protect that, both in domestic proceedings and with any international treaties. That is why the Bill is drafted so it is both compliant with European law and has high regard to the first amendment.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:20 a.m.

First of all, the Bill is simply the docking station from here to there. It is not about international treaties—when we sign our treaties, we can dock them into the Bill. The principle of allowing a Government to negotiate without their hands narrowly tied about what they can discuss is important.

Secondly, remember that—this probably comes down to how we would draft such a provision—for the purposes of security and so on we sometimes share information with countries that do not have the same high standards as us. If we had a credible threat against aeroplanes with British tourists taking off from third countries, we would not say, “We’re not going to tell you,” and let British tourists get blown out of the sky. Of course we share information with countries, but this is about journalistic information as it applies to investigations, criminal proceedings and so on.

We can do more to provide assurances about journalistic material, notification and journalists in court here, and I can give the Committee the assurance that we would enter into international agreements only where we felt there was high regard for the protection of journalists, but I do not think that safeguard needs to be in the Bill. There would be a challenge about how exactly to draft it. It would also go against the principle of letting the Government of the day be free to hold a negotiation in a way that would achieve the same things, but could address all the different issues. Every country will have things that we have issues with, and I bet that not one country will tick all our boxes across the board. What is my highest priority? Protection of the ECHR, the right to life, journalistic protections—those things will be right up there at the very top, which I think is the best way to do it.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:20 a.m.

On the basis of the Minister’s reassurances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:21 a.m.

Clause 1 is the meaty part of the Bill, and the Government have removed the amendment made in the Lords. I do not need to reiterate the importance of the Bill progressing in the way that we have tried to take it through. I have offered concessions throughout, as I have done elsewhere, and concessions are still on offer to Opposition Members, and indeed to Conservative Back Benchers. However, I cannot say that I will put the Bill in jeopardy, because I believe that fundamentally that would make our constituents less safe. That is why we have removed the amendment, and why I believe clause 1 should stand part of the Bill.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

The Minister knows that I am always willing to speak to him about concessions, and that remains the case. However, I hope that he understands the real strength of feeling about death penalty assurances, which was reflected in my speech and the vote this morning. Of course we will consider the issue in further discussions, and we will revisit it on Report.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3

Meaning of “electronic data” and “excepted electronic data”

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Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

Certainly not through this process. Any use or acquisition of bulk data is guided by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, and those conditions are set out. Someone could not use the Bill to go along to court and say, “Google, can I have data on everyone in Scunthorpe who uses the internet?” That would be a bulk dataset. However, they could go along to the court and say, “I’m investigating somebody called Gavin Newlands, and I would like to see the comms data record and some of his content.” They would make the request to the judge, possibly for more than one set of data—browsing history and mobile phone text history, perhaps. That would be two sets, but they would be specifically targeted at an individual, and would therefore not be a bulk dataset. That is the difference.

Bulk datasets are required under the 2016 Act by our intelligence service and so on, and they are overseen by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office and the warrantry system, which now has the double lock in many cases. They can also be overseen by Ministers, and to some extent by the Intelligence and Security Committee when investigating operations and how that data was used. I do not know when it will be published—it might be about to be published, or have been published—but the latest annual report by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner is out. Lord Justice Fulford’s report is a detailed analysis, and highlights where mistakes have been made or the law has not been applied.

That is how bulk data is regulated and acquired. The Bill does not apply to that, and none of those requests could involve bulk data applications.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I have some other issues to press later about journalistic material; however, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:35 a.m.

Again, the amendment relates to a theme of my amendments, regarding provisions of the overseas production orders being in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. I will refer to the excluded material under the Bill, because there is a set of conditions different from those that need to be met under the 1984 Act.

Under the 1984 Act, the definition of excluded material means that in most cases confidential journalistic material is simply out of the police’s reach. That protection helps to ensure the anonymity of those who approach journalists with information that is in the public interest. If journalists cannot ensure that their sources’ identities will be protected, people will not come forward with information exposing crime, corruption and other wrongdoings in society.

Clause 3 does outline that excepted electronic data cannot be targeted by applications by orders. That includes data subject to legal privilege, and any personal record that is confidential. However, there is a further concern with regard to protection for excluded material or journalistic material that is held subject to a duty of confidence. Under the 1984 Act, excluded material has a different set of conditions that need to be met. My question to the Minister is why that should be different in the Bill.

I appreciate that on Second Reading the Minister set out that the Bill had been worded in such a way that it is in line with the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. However, particularly in relation to POCA, one would usually have an application—a POCA application—at the conclusion of a trial. Obviously, in that situation the crime would already have been proven and the authorities would go after any ill-gotten gains as a consequence. It is not necessarily the best place to mirror provisions from in this context.

The concern is that, as the Bill stands and as excluded material is defined, we are running the risk of potentially sensitive material contained in confidential records being applied for and that there is not that explicit protection with regard to confidential journalistic sources. Journalists play a fundamental role in our society in holding those in power to account; I am sure that the Minister shares my concern that we do not want this legislation to suppress in any way investigative journalism and the exposure of matters in the public interest. I hope that he will be able to set out his position on that issue and provide reassurances to the members of the Committee.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:36 a.m.

The amendment would make confidential journalistic data an excepted category for material for an overseas production order, meaning it cannot be sought using the powers in the Bill. The amendment goes further than what is currently in place under PACE. While confidential journalistic material is excluded material in PACE, it is accessible if certain access conditions are met.

Under PACE, a constable may obtain access to excluded material for the purposes of a criminal investigation by making an application under schedule 1. Excluded material can be applied for only if there is a statute that would have authorised obtaining material in question under warrant before PACE was introduced.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I accept that the conditions are different. The point is this: why is it not in the same place?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:37 a.m.

While the Bill was based on some of the provisions in PACE, its powers extend to further offences, such as terrorism investigations. In the Terrorism Act 2000—the legislation that law enforcement agencies currently use for terrorism investigations—confidential journalistic material is not excepted data. The Bill creates a new power to obtain an overseas production order, drawing on existing powers available to law enforcement domestically for the acquisition of content data overseas, to help to prevent unnecessary delays in tackling serious crime.

It is sensible to ensure that we do not have significantly different legal tests in the Bill. The existence of different court procedures for different sorts of court orders leads to unnecessary confusion, avoidable litigation and further delays in investigations.

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Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:39 a.m.

I hear my hon. Friend’s point. The whole point of the Bill is to increase the speed of the process and smooth it. What we will come on to later is obviously that in this process there is notification for journalists; other people do not get notification. Journalists are brought into the process early on, so that they are able to make representations to a judge in a way that does not apply to the rest of the public. Indeed, it does not apply to Members of Parliament; if MPs are under investigation, they will not get a chance to make representations to the judge. But a journalist will get that chance.

Our view is that the terrorism law is domestic law, and that judgment has been in existence since the last Labour Government. What is important is that the judge uses his or her discretion, guided by the fact that any judgment needs to be proportionate, necessary, in the public interest, targeted at an individual and in line with the range of domestic laws. So, yes, there is POCA, PACE and the Terrorism Act 2000. However, all of those laws are established UK pieces of legislation.

If we add the notification to the judge’s discretion—the point of it has to be proportionate and necessary—and to the fact that the laws are already established, I believe that journalists will have the protection that they need. I am happy to look at the issue, which we will come to in later amendments, about effectively improving the definition of journalistic material to make sure that it is not broad and spread wide.

In this case, we must remember that the appropriate officer will need to provide evidence against each of the access conditions, and the judge will scrutinise them carefully. It is almost inevitable that in any situation where the police attempt to obtain journalistic material, there will be understandable resistance from the journalist or media organisation that holds it. Both are well versed in the process of making representations to court, and it is rare that access to confidential material is granted through PACE.

It is the Government’s intention that journalists’ interactions with their sources should be protected, but that does not mean that journalists should receive blanket protection from legitimate investigation, simply because of their chosen profession. The Bill takes a reasoned balanced approach, so I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw amendment 13.

Amendment 14 seeks to redefine “confidential journalistic data”. The definition in the Bill is taken from the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which the Government feel is sufficient protection for source material.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:41 a.m.

I have already referred to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. I am not saying that there is a blanket protection, but there is a stringent set of tests. Before the Minister concludes, will he say how satisfied he is about how stringent the tests are in the Bill?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:42 a.m.

I am satisfied, and the court rules will also expand on that. I am satisfied that judges, who regularly come down not on the Government’s side, will take the Bill and scrutinise the requests properly. We have to go to a judge, so our law enforcement agencies cannot examine the information without going via the judiciary; it goes via the judiciary in this case. I have every faith that they will be able to uphold those important principles.

On amendment 14, the term “confidential journalistic data” reflects the reality whereby journalistic material can be hosted on servers where the data would technically belong to the communications service provider, rather than the journalist. To ensure that source material has proportionate protections, the term “confidential journalistic data” has been borrowed from the 2016 Act. I am happy to discuss that further with hon. Members before Report. I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 4

Requirements for making of order

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:50 a.m.

Amendments 4, 5 and 6 seek to include in the Bill an additional test of relevant evidence, which the judge must be satisfied has been met before granting an overseas production order for journalistic data, and the additional requirement that all other avenues for obtaining the data have been exhausted before applying for an overseas production order. On the relevant evidence test, under schedule 1 to PACE, there are certain conditions that must be satisfied before the judge can order the production of special procedure material. Under these conditions, first, there must be reasonable grounds for believing that the material is likely to be of substantial value to the investigation in connection with which the application is made. Secondly, there must be reasonable grounds for believing that the material is likely to be relevant evidence, which means, in relation to an offence, anything that is admissible in trial for that offence. Thirdly, it must be in the public interest, having regard to certain matters, for the material to be produced.

Only the public interest and substantial value conditions are included in the Bill. That was deliberate drafting to ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the powers they need to gain access to material that could help further investigation, even if that material is not necessarily admissible as evidence in court. Although the intent of the powers is to allow for data gathered to be used as evidence in court, we do not intend admissibility as evidence to be a barrier to obtaining material that has been identified as being of substantial value to an investigation. My officials have worked closely with operational partners to understand the need for this. Investigators from law enforcement agencies advise that there are often cases in which access to data is fundamental in discovering certain leads in an investigation, although they will not necessarily be used as evidence in court. For example, if someone is being investigated for storing inappropriate images of young children, an overseas production order could reveal further references to other platforms where inappropriate content was being stored. While the images themselves would be used as evidence in court, the lead to the platforms on which they were stored might not be.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:50 a.m.

The Minister is talking about admissibility, not relevance. Why on earth would anyone want to investigate something that is irrelevant?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:51 a.m.

I do not think that is what I am saying. I am saying that some material would be used as evidence and some would be used as a lead through which to access or potentially find evidence. This is not about anyone going to the court and asking for irrelevant material. It is about asking for material that is substantial and meets the test of the judges.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:51 a.m.

I do not see how a relevance test would prevent that from taking place.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:52 a.m.

I will give another reason. Unlike PACE, the Bill allows for the investigation of terrorist offences. It has been drafted to mirror the relevant parts of the Terrorism Act and POCA, neither of which has a requirement for relevant evidence tests to be met.

The concept of relevant evidence works only if an application is made in relation to a particular offence. That is why it does not exist in the Terrorism Act, under which an application does not have to be made in respect of one particular offence, but only for a terrorist investigation. Given that an overseas production order made under the Bill could be served in support of a terrorist investigation, we cannot simply import a relevant evidence test into the Bill, as in PACE. I do not believe that introducing a markedly different legal test depending on the investigation is helpful.

I reiterate that the Bill deliberately brings different police powers under one piece of legislation. The intention is to create a single set of test criteria, which the Government believe provides appropriate safeguards to accessing content data.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:53 a.m.

We are in the process of trying to balance the safeguards. Let us remember that the Bill effectively covers a relationship between the law enforcement agencies, the courts and the CSPs—not the journalists or the person under investigation or anybody else. Journalists will be notified effectively to make a representation to a court about why, for example, half of their address book is irrelevant. They have an opportunity to make that point to the judge. Nobody else does. That provides a different type of safeguard from what my hon. Friend is looking for.

The point is well made about an investigation. Many of these investigations are about discovery and are very fast moving; starting with one mobile telephone number or one individual, it very quickly becomes a plot in a terrorist case. It is therefore about giving our law enforcement agencies the ability to pursue an investigation. However, when the investigation comes across journalistic material, the journalist will be given a notification that they are allowed to make a case for why it is irrelevant and effectively influence the parameters of that request. I venture that a judge would take that very seriously.

Some 99.9% of journalists do not have anything to fear from this process. The ones who do have something to fear are those who call themselves journalists at the Dabiq or Inspire magazines from Al-Qaeda and IS and so on, who pump out propaganda and journalism, as they see it, around the world. They have something to fear because this Bill will help us catch those people much quicker. I do not call them journalists, however; I call them first-class terrorists. Ultimately, they are the ones who would love to see bureaucracy slow down the investigation. I do not think our journalists—mainstream journalists, law-abiding journalists, and not even mainstream journalists—have anything to fear from this.

Another point was made about exhausting all avenues of accessing journalists’ data before an overseas production order is granted. First, if the amendment were incorporated in the Bill, that could have the adverse effect of compelling a judge to ensure law enforcement agencies have tried the mutual legal assistance route, which is the route we are currently trying to fix because that can take up to two years before an overseas production order can be granted. That would defeat the point of our creating this new process to prevent up to two years of delays via MLA. The caveat the hon. Member for Torfaen has added to his amendment with the phrase,

“tried without success or have not been tried because it appeared that they were bound to fail”,

would not mitigate this risk either. We are not worried about MLA failing, but about the length of time it takes to gain access to vital evidence.

It is worth noting that, in practice, law enforcement agencies would have exhausted less coercive methods of obtaining data, if they exist. Agencies will only go through the process of applying to court for potential evidence as a last resort in the investigation, for example, should suspects refuse to release or unlock access to their phones and so on. I therefore urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 10:56 a.m.

I am not minded to divide the Committee on this, and I am willing to withdraw the amendment. I just say to the Minister that I am not sure the relevance test has quite the impact he thinks it does. I urge him to look again, because its inclusion would provide greater safeguards and reassurance without doing the damage he thinks. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 11:08 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 12, in clause 8, page 8, line 42, at end insert—

“(3A) A judge shall only include a non-disclosure requirement for a period which, in the judge’s opinion, is necessary and proportionate in all the circumstances.”

This amendment would require a judge to include a non-disclosure requirement to cover a period which was only as long as he or she deemed necessary and proportionate.

This is another quite discrete point. Clause 8 empowers a judge making an overseas production order to include a non-disclosure requirement. Subsection (3) provides:

“An overseas production order that includes a non-disclosure requirement must specify or describe when the requirement is to expire.”

However, the clause does not include a necessity and proportionality test. Of course, it is essential that a non-disclosure requirement should not run for longer than reasonably necessary. Whereas under subsection (3) an order with a non-disclosure requirement would certainly have to specify or describe when it would expire, the judge would not be asked to consider the necessity for and proportionality of the order and its duration.

The purpose of the amendment is simply to probe the Minister for an indication of why there is no necessity and proportionality test, and whether he thinks any reassurance can be provided that those factors would be borne in mind in any non-disclosure order, which he will appreciate is a powerful order to make. It has quite profound consequences in these circumstances.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 11:10 a.m.

As the hon. Gentleman outlined, the clause allows for a judge making an overseas production order to include a non-disclosure requirement. Such a requirement would be imposed on the person against whom the order is made. It would prevent that person disclosing the making of the order or its contents to any person, unless with the leave of the judge or the written permission of the appropriate officer who applied for the order.

In deciding whether to include a non-disclosure requirement, judges are under a general obligation to make a reasonable decision and to take into account all relevant factors when making that decision. Furthermore, as a public authority, the court is under an obligation to act compatibly with convention rights. I hope that hon. Members are reassured that a decision to include a non-disclosure requirement will not be taken arbitrarily.

There might be circumstances in which it is appropriate for non-disclosure requirements to remain in place once the order has been complied with, or on revocation of it, for example when it could prejudice an ongoing investigation. In such instances we would expect a judge to include such a requirement as he or she would consider reasonable in the circumstances.

If the person subject to the non-disclosure requirement wants to disclose either the contents or the making of the order, the Bill already contains provisions under which the non-disclosure requirements may be challenged, including that of duration. First, when the person against whom the order is made wishes to oppose that requirement, the duration of the non-disclosure can be amended on application. In an individual case, the person against whom the order is made could seek leave of the judge, under subsection (2)(a), or written permission of the appropriate officer, under subsection (2)(b),

“to disclose the making of the order or its contents to any person”.

A mechanism therefore exists by which a person against whom the order is made can seek permission to disclose information relating to the order.

Secondly, the non-disclosure requirement will form part of the overseas production order itself. Clause 7 confers a right to apply for the variation of an order. An application for a variation can be made by the appropriate officer, any person affected by the order, the Secretary of State, or the Lord Advocate in Scotland. That could include varying the order to remove the non-disclosure requirement entirely, or to alter its duration to a period that the applicant feels is reasonable.

As hon. Members know and respect, our judges and courts are under an obligation to act reasonably. There is therefore no need to amend the Bill as is proposed. When a person subject to a non-disclosure requirement believes that it is not reasonable to remain subject to the requirement, provision already exists in the Bill for an application to the court to amend the order accordingly. The amendment is therefore unnecessary and the Government cannot support it.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 11:13 a.m.

I think that there is still a case for having the necessary and proportionate test in the Bill, and that would not necessarily undermine the Minister’s argument. In the circumstances, however, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 9 to 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 12

Notice of application for order: confidential journalistic data

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

The Minister shook himself. Amendments 3, 10 and 20 would provide that when journalistic data is sought as part of an overseas production order, the journalist is put on notice of application. Clause 12(1) of the Bill requires that when confidential journalistic data is sought as part of an overseas production order, the respondent is put on notice. The respondent in this context would be the communication service provider from which law enforcement agencies or prosecutors are seeking content data.

The Government intended to ensure that where an application for an overseas production order was made there was a presumption that any person affected by the order, which would include the journalist themselves, was also put on notice. That was to be included in the relevant court rules, as is the case with domestic production orders, including those made under PACE, the Terrorism Act and POCA.

I am pleased to see that the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Torfaen recognise that, should all journalists be put on notice when an overseas production order is served in respect of an application that relates to their data, certain exemptions must be in place. It is important that the requirement to provide notice for an overseas production order is not absolute. The difference between the Bill and PACE is that PACE production orders are served directly on the respondent themselves—that is, the journalist. Where PACE requires notice to be given to the respondent, notice has been given to someone who will of course be made aware of the order when it is served, as they are the person who will be required to comply with it. In practice, that will be the person handing over the data to law enforcement agencies.

However, in the Bill the orders are served directly on the CSP that owns and controls the data. Giving notice to a third party—the journalist, who is not required to act on the order—should not stand in the way of issuing an overseas production order where there are good reasons for notice not to be given. I believe that the judge is well placed to determine whether the journalist should be notified, and the circumstances in which it will not be appropriate for that to be the case.

The exemptions set out in amendment 10 are that

“the applicant cannot identify or contact the journalist…it would prejudice the investigation if the journalist were present…it would prejudice the investigation to adjourn or postpone the application so as to allow the journalist to attend, or…the journalist has waived the opportunity to attend.”

Those exemptions mirror what is currently in place in court rules for domestic production orders through PACE, and they seem a sensible approach. For example, we do not want to oblige law enforcement agencies into notifying an ISIS blogger or journalist when clearly that could prejudice the investigation. Those exemptions are fundamental to retaining a robust and sensible approach to evidence.

I thank Members for their detailed arguments, and for the time that they have taken to consider the protection of journalists. I reiterate that both the notice requirements and the important exceptions that underpin them will be provided for, as they are currently, in court rules. However, I am happy to consider whether they can be provided for in the Bill. I am happy to discuss that with hon. Members as we proceed to Report, if they will withdraw the amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

On the basis of that continuing discussion, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 11:24 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 2, in clause 12, page 10, line 39, at end insert—

“(6) In determining for the purposes of subsection (5) whether or not a purpose is a criminal purpose, crime is to be taken to mean conduct which—

(a) constitutes one or more criminal offences under the law of a part of the United Kingdom, or

(b) is, or corresponds to, conduct which, if it all took place in a particular part of the United Kingdom, would constitute one or more criminal offences under the law of that part of the United Kingdom.”

This amendment clarifies what is meant in Clause 12(5)(a) of the Bill by the reference to creating or acquiring electronic data with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose. What is criminal is to be judged by reference to what is, or would be, a criminal offence under the law of a part of the United Kingdom.

Clause 12(5) provides that electronic data is not to be regarded as having been created or acquired for the purpose of journalism if it was created or acquired with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose, and that electronic data that a person intends to use to further such a purpose is not to be regarded as intended to be used for the purpose of journalism. As drafted, the Bill does not explicitly define what is meant by a criminal purpose in that context. Without a definition of criminal purpose or a crime in the Bill, there is a risk that the provision could be interpreted inconsistently within UK law. Our intention is that a criminal purpose is criminal only if the conduct constituting a related crime is an offence under UK law, regardless of whether it is a crime in the place where the relevant data was created or acquired, or where it was intended to be used.

For example, if a person located in another country was creating an extremist blog that encouraged others to join a terrorist organisation that is proscribed in the UK, such as ISIS, that person should not benefit from any protections afforded to journalistic data under the Bill. That could be the case even when that country does not criminalise the same conduct. That reflects the principle that the criminal purpose must be recognised as criminal under UK law.

To flip the example the other way, if a legitimate British journalist based abroad is writing an article about political corruption, which the country that they are in deems illegal, we should absolutely ensure that they are given the right protection under the Bill, given that their conduct is perfectly acceptable under British law. Without something that links criminal purpose to conduct that is criminal in the UK, or to conduct that would be criminal had it occurred here, there is a risk that the term will be interpreted by reference to the criminal law of the place where the person who created or acquired the data is located. I therefore propose amending the Bill to include a definition of what is meant by “criminal purpose”. I hope that hon. Members will support the need for this clarifying amendment.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 11:27 a.m.

I support the sensible amendment. As subsection (5) is drafted, it is clearly the case that we should not regard electronic data

“as having been created or acquired for the purposes of journalism if it was created or acquired with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose”.

The difficulty comes when we have investigative journalistic work in another country that would not be regarded as a criminal act under UK law but could be illegal in that country, if it had particularly stringent or harsh laws. The sensible way to deal with that problem is the Government’s amendment, which defines criminal purpose in relation to UK law. That achieves the purpose of subsection (5) without endangering investigative journalistic activity abroad, which we all want to see.

Amendment 2 agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 13 to 20 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Question proposed, That the Chair do report the Bill, as amended, to the House.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 11:29 a.m.

Thank you, Mrs Moon, for your swift and efficient chairmanship. I am glad that something is functioning in Parliament and Government, and it is this small corner of the United Kingdom. I thank hon. Members for their contributions. I thank the hon. Member for Torfaen, who has contributed throughout, and the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, who has also contributed in as consensual a way as possible. It is regretful that we disagree on one important part.

The Bill will allow our citizens to be kept safer than they are now. As unexciting as its title is—I designed it that way—the Bill is an incredibly important piece of legislation. I hope that it progresses to Report soon and then returns to the House of Lords. I thank hon. Members for their attendance. The speed of our consideration does not reflect the seriousness of the Bill.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
18 Dec 2018, 11:30 a.m.

Thank you, Mrs Moon, for the way you have chaired proceedings. I also thank all the officials, the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, the Minister and all hon. Members who have contributed. As the Minister said, the speed of our proceedings is due to the fact that the vast bulk of the Bill is uncontroversial; it does not detract from the serious nature of the matters we are considering. I look forward to hearing further from the Minister on Report about the concerns I have expressed.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, accordingly to be reported.

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

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 03 December 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:17 p.m.

As I have said, some of them have gone on for years. Some cases are still sitting in courts overseas. It is predominantly a matter of months and years at present, and we want to reduce that to days and weeks. Every day on which we cannot access content in this area—and let us remember that it is the court, not me, that must be satisfied that a request from the police is valid—is a day on which, in many cases, the offenders are still offending. That is why we think the Bill is so important. It reflects the changes in how offending is happening, and the fact that it is now happening online. For many months, Members on both sides of the House have asked what more the Government can do about not only online radicalisation but online offending. This is a concrete step to ensure that we can do more to counter it.

The MLA process will continue to exist. It remains critical to other types of evidence that are not within the scope of the Bill, and to any electronic evidence that may not be provided for by the relevant international agreement. However, one of the biggest pitfalls of the current system is the long wait to secure electronic data that, by its nature, can be shared very quickly. The Bill provides the solution in the form of an additional, streamlined alternative: the overseas production order.

I do not doubt that Members will support the crucial purpose of the Bill, which is to provide a significantly faster mechanism for obtaining vital electronic data that is held by overseas providers in order to prosecute the most serious offenders, and to safeguard vulnerable people in our society from further unnecessary harm. I commend it to the House.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:18 p.m.

The Minister began by saying that he was grateful for the contribution of lawyers during the previous two and a half hours. Alas, I have not had a chance to leave yet, but hopefully that contribution will continue.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:18 p.m.

Put the rates up.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:18 p.m.

I doubt that even I could match the rates of the Attorney General.

As the Minister has explained, the purpose of the Bill is to permit a court in this country to require a person or company located overseas, such as an overseas service provider, to produce stored electronic information, as a court could if the information were located or controlled in the United Kingdom. That will be done via the overseas production order for which clause 1 provides. An order can be operative only if the UK signs a treaty enabling it to be exercised. UK law enforcement authorities will be able to apply for an order that requires the production of electronic evidence for the purpose of investigating or prosecuting crimes such as terrorism offences. At present, if UK law enforcement requires electronic data from another country, it must go via a mutual legal assistance treaty, but that process can be slow to complete.

I very much appreciate and accept that electronic information is crucially important for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences, and indeed is gaining in importance. The Minister set out the case of Dr Matthew Falder and some of the horrific child sex abuse images found on various websites, and it is clear that having a smooth, fast, efficient process to obtain this information is important, which is why the Opposition support the aim of this Bill; we do need a faster system.

I should also point out that I recognise the particular importance of the United States, first because this is the country where so much of the data is held and so many communication services providers—CSPs—are based, and, secondly, because the UK has been negotiating a bilateral data-sharing agreement with the United States since 2015.

The Minister knows that the Opposition are always happy to work with him in trying to reach consensus on matters, but there are aspects of this Bill about which I and my colleagues in the other place have concerns. First, I say to the Minister that we will be looking to pursue issues such as bulk data, confidential personal records and non-disclosure requirements in Committee.

There are also two other specific points of controversy in terms of this Bill that I will draw to the Minister’s attention now. The first of them is with regard to assurances on the use of the death penalty in cases where this country hands over data. The Bill is reciprocal, which allows countries with which a treaty is negotiated to seek a court order for electronic data stored in the UK to be transferred to another country. The current treaty is being negotiated with the US, and US law enforcement could apply via its courts for electronic data in the UK to be used as evidence in a particular case. There are currently 30 states in America that retain the death penalty.

I appreciate the Minister’s efforts to make this a more transparent process than has previously been the case, when Home Secretaries could, in private, make decisions in individual cases that are capital cases about handing over information. My right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary asked an urgent question on one issue in this House in July, which was due to a leaked letter from the Home Secretary to the then US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. In the letter the Home Secretary stated:

“I am of the view that there are strong reasons for not requiring a death penalty assurance in this specific case, so no such assurances will be sought.”

The Minister responding to my right hon. Friend stated at the Dispatch Box:

“I can reassure the House that our long-standing position on the use of the death penalty has not changed.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 24 July 2018; Vol. 792, c. 1612.]

While I accept that the Government cannot control whether another Government provide assurances that are asked for, they can control, where assurances are not forthcoming, whether information will be handed over, and that includes information which could lead to evidence being gathered for use in a court, as well as evidence itself.

My noble Labour colleagues in the other place tabled a strong amendment in this regard which passed by 208 votes to 185 and was added to the Bill. The effect of it is to prevent such handing over of information unless there are assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed. This is important for those of us on these Benches who oppose the death penalty in all its forms and are passionate about human rights here and around the world. Furthermore, while we are, quite rightly, focused on the United States for the reasons I have set out, this Bill could be used, alongside a treaty, as the basis for reciprocal information exchange with other countries around the world where the rule of law is not respected by the regimes in power there, making the need for safeguards in this Bill even more pressing.

Secondly, there is a concern regarding the protection of journalists’ confidential information.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:56 p.m.

With the leave of the House, I will briefly respond to the debate. The hon. Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Dr Johnson) put her finger on it when she said that any measure that prevents one more child from suffering must be a laudable one, and she is absolutely right. The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) and I often find ourselves working together on such Bills, and I look forward to working with him once again in Committee. He is right to raise the issue of journalists who have material that is sensitive but not necessarily confidential, which is clearly an issue to consider in Committee.

I commend the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) for the work she has done in taking down horrific images from the internet through her work with the Internet Watch Foundation. I say to the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) that there is no difference of principle in opposition to the death penalty. I appreciate that there is an argument about other treaties, but there will also be an argument about what is within the scope of the Bill. We should do our best, on a joint basis, to protect the gain that has been made in the Lords, and I look forward to working with his party on that at later stages.

All I say to the Minister is that I hope we can proceed by working together, as we have on previous Bills. As the Bill goes into Committee we will now be looking carefully at the issue of data access being proportionate and necessary, the issue of confidentiality and journalists’ sources, and the vital issue of death penalty assurances.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:59 p.m.

With the leave of the House, I will close the debate on Second Reading. I thank hon. Members for engaging with the Bill, for their support of what it will achieve and for their considered comments.

Overseas production orders will be vital in ensuring that criminals do not remain at large for longer than is necessary due to delays in accessing electronic content data held overseas. Overseas production orders also reflect the technological developments of recent years. The use of modern electronic communication technologies by serious criminals to perpetrate their crimes and to seek to evade justice is increasing exponentially. This means that the evidence needed to convict such criminals is increasingly in the form of emails, Facebook messages, images stored with providers like Dropbox or elsewhere in the cloud, and similar electronic content data. UK law enforcement agencies and prosecutors now need a faster, 21st-century process for obtaining such evidence, not least to protect victims of child sexual abuse living in our communities and in our constituencies.

The length of time it currently takes to obtain electronic evidence leaves child victims to be abused while our dedicated law enforcement agencies and prosecutors navigate unnecessary bureaucracy. Bureaucracy prevents us from getting to the heart of an investigation sooner and puts more children at risk. The longer it takes, the longer these vile criminals are free to carry on offending. We must prioritise the safeguarding of the most vulnerable people in our society as far as possible.

I will now briefly address the comments of hon. Members. The hon. Members for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) and for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) and the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) all spoke about journalistic data. I absolutely hear what they say, and will give substantial consideration to their ideas and suggestions. I can perhaps provide some clarity on this. I do not think that, as the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton suggested, officials picked this off the top of their heads; it was in not only the Terrorism Act 2000, but the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. As with a lot of different case law, there have been different developments on the definitions of “data” and “confidential data” as it relates to journalistic material. Of course, the substantial value and public interest test is already in place to ensure that data relevant to a particular investigation or proceedings can be the subject of an access production order, but I am happy to discuss this further in Committee.

The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North talked about a number of things. First, he asked why we had not opted into the European protection order scheme, by which I assume he means the Europe e-evidence proposals. The Government chose not to opt into the e-evidence regulation as it is not clear that the new EU legislation will be a practical and effective way to address the global issue of providing lawful access to data held anywhere in the world. Clearly, however, I agree with the principles, which is why we are introducing this Bill.

The hon. Gentleman also raised the issue of bulk data. An application for an overseas production order must specify what data is being sought. The judge approving the order must be satisfied that the data requested is of substantial value to the proceedings or investigations, and that it is in the public interest for the data to be obtained. I know the hon. Gentleman may not be satisfied by that, but the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry), being a barrister, will no doubt be absolutely supportive of judicial discretion. Interestingly, people in this House often hold strong views on this—I am a great believer in judicial discretion—yet when we ask them to make that decision about public interest or certain tests, the same people sometimes seek to restrict that judicial discretion. I trust our judiciary and believe that in this environment of a bulk data request and so on, if this is laid by our law enforcement agencies before the court, the judge can use his or her discretion to make that decision, if it is in the public interest, and the police and law enforcement satisfy the requests made.

My hon. Friends the Members for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) and for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Dr Johnson) were absolutely right about the potential damage that the online environment is doing to our young people and the tools that the internet gives some persistent offenders to exploit and abuse people, both adults and children. I mentioned Dr Matthew Falder at the opening of this debate. To see that case in detail is disturbing, and it will stay with me for most of my life. We know that he affected people’s lives, not just at home in the UK, but across the world, including by encouraging people to commit suicide and so on. He set up chatrooms where the qualification for entry was for people to bring their own abuse images into the chatroom—people were tasked with abusing children and bringing those images in. These are the people this Bill is targeted at, and every day we cannot deal with them is a day they continue to abuse.

The right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton, and the hon. Members for Torfaen and for Paisley and Renfrewshire North asked about the issue of the death penalty. I understand the importance of it and the key principle that people hold on it. The right hon. Gentleman was a member of the first Government who published the overseas security and justice assistance guidance—OSJAG. This is human rights guidance on requests for evidence and it contains all the guidance for law enforcement and government on the extent to which we seek and uphold our principle on the death penalty. I am happy to debate this in Committee. It does however reflect the issues and challenges we face as to balancing our security with our belief on human rights. This affects any Government, including the last Labour Government, who did not have OSJAG but still believed there were exceptional circumstances when assurances need not be sought. That is why I will welcome the discussion in Committee, but I make the point to Members that this Bill is an enabling Bill. It is, in effect, a plug for international agreement that we will then go and negotiate around the world, depending on where risk comes from and need. Both Houses will get a further chance to scrutinise those individual agreements and we can then ascertain whether they uphold our principles. I look forward to debating with interested Members in Committee, and I commend this Bill on Second Reading.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

CRIME (OVERSEAS PRODUCTION ORDERS) BILL [LORDS] (PROGRAMME)

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

That the following provisions shall apply to the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]:

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 18 December 2018.

(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 proceedings on Consideration 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.—(Amanda Milling.)

Question agreed to.

See more like "Draft Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules 2018"

Draft Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules 2018
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 20 November 2018

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Read Full debate
General Committees
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
20 Nov 2018, 2:34 p.m.

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules 2018.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David. I am pleased to have this opportunity to debate these important updates with the Committee. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which was established under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, investigates and determines complaints that allege that public authorities have used covert techniques unlawfully. The tribunal also investigates complaints against the security and intelligence agencies for conduct that breaches human rights.

The tribunal has delivered judgments on a number of landmark cases over the past 18 years. A notable example is its widely publicised 2015 judgment that the so-called Wilson doctrine, thought to protect the communications of parliamentarians from interception, was not enforceable in English law. That led to an emergency debate in Parliament and a statement from the Prime Minister, paving the way for the Wilson doctrine to be placed on a statutory footing in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

The tribunal’s rules set out the procedure that the tribunal should follow. They include details on such important matters as how complaints may be brought, how hearings should be conducted, how evidence should be received, in what circumstances sensitive information may be disclosed, and how complainants should be notified of the outcome of their case. The rules have not changed since the tribunal was established in 2000, so the time is ripe to update them to better reflect current tribunal practice.

I will briefly outline the changes that the statutory instrument will bring in. First, to improve the efficiency of decision making in the tribunal, we have amended the rules to allow further functions of the tribunal to be exercised by a single member of that tribunal. Secondly, to strengthen the power of the tribunal, we have added an explicit process for when the respondent refuses to consent to disclosure but the tribunal considers that disclosure is required. Thirdly, to further increase the transparency of the work of the tribunal, we have included the commitment to hold open hearings as far as is possible. Fourthly, to assist complainants and respondents to the tribunal, we have provided details of the function of counsel to the tribunal, including by listing the functions that a tribunal may request counsel to perform.

Finally, we have amended the rules to set out the process for the making and determination of applications to the tribunal for leave to appeal, as well as determining in which court the appeal should be heard. This is in preparation for the new right of appeal, which is coming into force as a result of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. Appeals may be made in certain circumstances on a point of law against any determination or final decision of a preliminary issue made by the tribunal. Appeals will be heard in the Court of Appeal in England and Wales and in the Court of Session in Scotland. As is necessary, the tribunal undertakes much of its work behind closed doors and many of its judgments are not published in full. The introduction of an appeals route will allow for greater transparency and greater levels of reassurance that justice has been done.

Of course, it is important that the affected parties are properly consulted before such changes are made. For that reason, the Government held a public consultation on the proposed updates to the rules. We have considered the responses carefully with colleagues across Government and with the tribunal itself. We accepted a number of amendments proposed in the consultation responses and they have been subsequently incorporated in the rules we see before us today.

In summary, the updates to the rules make the work of the tribunal more transparent and ensure that the legislation accurately reflects how tribunal processes and proceedings have evolved over time. I commend the draft rules to the House.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
20 Nov 2018, 2:38 p.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David. I am grateful to the Minister for setting out the position in the way he has. The Opposition welcome the work to update the tribunal. Through its work of investigating and determining complaints that allege that public authorities have used covert techniques unlawfully and infringed the right to privacy, as well as complaints against the security and intelligence services for conduct that breaches human rights, the tribunal is a fundamental part of the framework in this area.

The approach that I always take is that strong powers must be accompanied by strong safeguards. Taken together, I believe that the updated rules will provide us with greater reassurance that justice is both done and seen to be done in the tribunal, and that they will allow for a greater degree of transparency. I make it clear that the Opposition do not oppose the draft rules, and I am grateful to those who responded to the six-week consultation.

As the Minister set out, the rules are essentially being updated to amend the powers that can be exercised by a single tribunal member; implement a process for cases in which a respondent refuses to consent to a disclosure that the tribunal believes is necessary; reflect the practice that hearings are to be held in the open where possible, which is to be welcomed; and set out a list, which I appreciate is non-exhaustive, of the functions that the tribunal may ask its counsel to perform—another important aspect.

I ask the Minister to clarify one point. I understand that 17 amendments were proposed in response to the consultation, of which five have been accepted and incorporated into the rules. First, the function of a single tribunal member to decide on preliminary issues is being removed. Secondly, the tribunal is being given a power in respect of what can be relied upon in circumstances where a problem arises regarding disclosure. Thirdly, in circumstances in which an arguable error of law is identified by the counsel to the tribunal, the counsel must notify the tribunal, which must disclose it to the complainant. Fourthly, where the tribunal makes a determination that is not in favour of the complainant, it must provide a summary of the determination—a change that is to be welcomed in the interests of justice. Finally, the rules will remove the requirement for an application for leave to appeal to state the ground of appeal where there has already been a notification by counsel of an arguable error of law. Those measures are all welcome, but I ask the Minister to clarify why those five amendments have been incorporated, while the other 12 have not.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
20 Nov 2018, 2:42 p.m.

I am grateful to the Opposition spokesperson for his question. We received three substantive responses to the public consultation. We rejected the suggestion that an amendment should be made to allow the tribunal to make disclosures to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, because section 237 of the 2016 Act already permits such disclosures. We also rejected the suggestion that the functions of the counsel to the tribunal should be specifically identified in the rules, because not all the counsel’s functions will be relevant in every case and the tribunal should have discretion over which functions would assist the counsel in each individual case.

We further rejected the suggestion that the tribunal should compel a witness to attend and give evidence; such a power could be counterproductive because the tribunal has functioned on the basis of voluntary co-operation. We rejected the use of special advocates in the tribunal, because there are considerable benefits to the tribunal employing its own counsel, which provides specific functions more suited to the tribunal’s work.

We have sought to allay concerns about the rule that the tribunal

“may receive evidence that would not be admissible in a court of law.”

Our response to the consultation states:

“It is important that the Tribunal has the flexibility to receive evidence in any form. However…it is inconceivable that a situation would arise wherein the admission of evidence that might have been obtained as a result of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment would not be subject to challenge—either by the complainant or by Counsel to the Tribunal.”

Those are the reasons that we have set out, but we accepted a considerable number of suggestions.

Overall, the draft rules are about improving access to the tribunal and setting out a clear appeals route, as is present in many other tribunal and court processes. They should therefore go some way towards continuing to reassure the public that there is good oversight. The tribunal is chaired by a judge of the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Singh, so it is a solid court that can deal with some very weighty issues. It has dealt with a considerable range of matters, including challenges to the Investigatory Powers Act, as well as individuals’ concerns about whether their rights have been infringed either by the intelligence services or by the actions of an investigation that used investigatory powers.

We have to operate in a slightly different arena here. On some occasions we have to be in “neither confirm, nor deny” territory, to ensure that we can investigate whether someone has been under surveillance and, if so, whether it has been proportionate and necessary in accordance with the law, without tipping them off after the fact that they have definitely been under such surveillance. That is quite important, because otherwise lots of people could use the process for mischievous or indeed malevolent purposes.

The tribunal is a very important structure. I have every confidence that it is well advised and respected by the legal community in this country and that it protects the rights of citizens. Once again, I commend the draft rules to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

See more like "Draft Data Retention and Acquistion Regulations 2018"

Draft Data Retention and Acquistion Regulations 2018
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 15 October 2018

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Read Full debate
General Committees
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
15 Oct 2018, 4:30 p.m.

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Data Retention and Acquisition Regulations 2018.

I am delighted to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Graham. The retention of and access to communications data is crucial in enabling investigators to obtain intelligence and evidence that can prevent terrorist attacks, disrupt the activities of serious and organised crime groups, and establish culpability so that offenders can be brought to justice. It is used to investigate crime, keep children safe, locate missing persons, support or disprove alibis and link a suspect to a crime scene.

The regulations introduce additional safeguards to ensure that the UK’s regime complies with EU law. They also bring into force the code of practice of parts 3 and 4 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016—IPA—the regime for communications data acquisition and retention. Between November 2017 and January 2018, we consulted publicly on the changes to the legislation and code of practice.

The regulations provide for the independent authorisation of communications data requests. The Investigatory Powers Commissioner, a senior judge, is given that power and will delegate the responsibility to a newly appointed body of staff, which will be known as the Office for Communications Data Authorisations.

OCDA will report directly to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and will be responsible for considering the vast majority of requests made by public authorities to access communications data. The new body is expected to begin operating in April 2019 with independent authorisation being rolled out across public authorities during 2019. The internal authorisation of requests will continue to be permitted in urgent cases—for example, where there is a threat to life or where requests are made for national security matters, which are outside the scope of the European law.

The regulations restrict the crime purpose for which events data such as call histories and location information can be retained and acquired to serious crime. We have carefully considered how serious crime should be defined in the context of communications data—a decision that the European Court has rightly left to member states. We have worked with the operational community to focus on where communications data can be a valuable tool. Indeed, in some cases, it is the only investigative tool.

We have mirrored the definition that already exists in the IPA for the more intrusive interception and bulk powers, but we have adjusted the custodial threshold to one year, rather than three, to reflect the less intrusive nature of comms data. That will ensure that the power is not used in the investigation of low-level offences.

The definition also makes specific provision for offences that, as an integral part, involve the sending of a communication or a breach of a person’s privacy, which will ensure that communications data can be used to investigate all harassment and stalking offences. Similarly, the definition extends to offences committed by corporate bodies, such as corporate manslaughter, where custodial sentences are not available. In addition, in every case, even where the serious crime threshold is met, an application for communications data can be authorised only where it is necessary and proportionate to what is sought to be achieved.

To ensure that the serious crime restriction can be brought into force on 1 November, the regulations amend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000—RIPA. Until part 3 of the IPA is brought into force early next year, RIPA remains the legal framework for accessing communications data.

The new code of practice provides comprehensive guidance on the data retention and acquisition regime and describes roles and responsibilities, considerations that must be given and detailed processes that must be followed. The code takes account of the changes made in the regulations, in particular the role of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and OCDA. It also provides further guidance on factors to take into account when considering the seriousness of offences in deciding whether communications data should be acquired.

The changes support the important right to privacy and the right of citizens to be protected from crimes and terrorism. They ensure that public authorities can continue to access retained communications data in a way that is consistent with EU law and our responsibilities to protect the public. The additional safeguards, the clear requirements set out in the code of practice and the independent oversight provided by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner establish clear limits around the use of the powers and provide reassurance for the public that communications data is being used only where it is necessary and proportionate. I commend the regulations to the Committee.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
15 Oct 2018, 4:35 p.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Graham; I thank the Minister for the information he has shared with the Opposition regarding this statutory instrument.

Following the ruling of the European Court that the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 was incompatible with European law, the Opposition welcome this instrument, which brings the legislation into line with that European law, together with the code of practice. We have accepted the ability of particular public authorities, including law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to have access to communications data, and we recognise that that can often be vital to ensuring public safety and national security. The proposed changes to the legislation and the code of practice would refine these data retention and acquisition regulations in two major ways: first, as the Minister has set out, by introducing an independent administrator who can authorise the use of these powers, and secondly, by,

“restricting the crime purpose for acquiring retained communications data to serious crime”,

making the use of this power proportionate to the crime being investigated. We in the Opposition support strong powers and strong safeguards, and we welcome the refinement of this legislation.

While the Opposition are not opposed to these changes, I seek clarification from the Minister on one point. The divisional court has required that the Government make legislative changes to bring the Data Retention and Acquisition Regulations in line with European law by 1 November 2018. While I understand that the proposed serious crime threshold will take effect in November 2018, the Government have stated in their explanatory memorandum that,

“the associated requirements for independent authorisation”,

will come into force from April 2019, six months after the deadline set by the court. The information provided by the Government cites complexity of implementation as the reason for that six-month delay, but I wonder whether the Minister can offer further clarification on the reasons.

As I have stated, the Opposition do not plan to oppose these changes, although I note that my former colleague, now the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, warned the Government in June 2016, when the Investigatory Powers Bill was being debated, that the threshold had to be a precise one. He said that,

“we must…legislate to put in place a very precise threshold, so that the circumstances in which those data can be accessed are explicitly clear…we need a very clear definition of what level of crime permits the authorities to access those records.”—[Official Report, 7 June 2016; Vol. 611, c. 1121.]

I am pleased that the Government have made the reasonable adjustments required to this legislation, so that that balance can now be appropriately struck.

See more like "Salisbury Incident"

Salisbury Incident
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Wednesday 12 September 2018

(1 year, 5 months ago)

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

My hon. Friend makes the point that the GRU’s fingerprints have been all over these types of events. MH17 was a civilian airliner travelling between Schiphol and Asia, and 200-plus people—women and children going on holiday—were blown out of the sky. It is an outrageous thing to have happened to anyone, and it seems that Russia does not want to bear responsibility for any of that. This is way outside any international norm—it is on another planet from any international norm—and it is time that we said, “Enough is enough.”

Russia has now started to undermine international institutions and degrade the structures and treaties that keep us safe. Russia is failing to act as a responsible member of the international community—one that has the privilege and responsibility of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The Russian state must account for the despicable use of chemical weapons by the GRU on British soil. It must recognise that there can be no place in any civilised international order for the kind of barbaric activity we saw in Salisbury in March.

Regrettably, there are some who repeatedly flout the established rules of international conduct, their flagrant disregard threatening the entire international rules-based system. We have acted to protect our citizens and allies against the malign activities of those who disregard international norms and to send a message to all those who would contravene the international rules-based system: you cannot and will not act with impunity.

Deterring unacceptable actions by Russia and other malign actors is critical to our collective security. Recent joint action using transparent, multilateral mechanisms such as the OPCW demonstrates the strength of our shared commitment to tackle the threat of malign state activity and to reinforce the global rules-based system. The June European Council endorsed a comprehensive package to tackle hybrid threats, including the creation of a new chemical weapons sanction regime. We will continue to work with our European partners for its speedy adoption. The US has announced additional sanctions against Russia for the Salisbury attack, and in June, the G7 agreed in Canada a rapid response mechanism to share intelligence on hostile state activity. NATO has subsequently strengthened its collective deterrence, including through a new cyber operations centre.

As the Prime Minister has said, we will push for new sanctions regimes against those responsible for gross human rights violations and cyber-attacks, as well as robustly enforcing the existing regime against Russia. We will also work with our partners to build the OPCW’s capacity to attribute chemical weapons in Syria and more widely.

Malign actors have, for some time, been using a range of methods to undermine the international norms and laws and our security and prosperity, and it depends on us to make sure we take a stand. They are trying to destabilise our advanced democracies, open societies and free economies. Those methods range from conventional military interventions to acts of non-military aggression in the form of disinformation and cyber-attacks. All these methods are designed to destabilise by sowing chaos, fear, uncertainty, division and mistrust.

In the face of such behaviour, the international community must continue to unite and to defend the laws, norms and institutions that safeguard our citizens. We must maintain and build on our strong alliances with those who share our values, stand shoulder to shoulder with our many partners and allies, send clear messages to malign actors that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and remain resolute, determined and united against those who seek to divide us.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:34 p.m.

I thank the Security Minister for the way he has opened the debate.

The Prime Minister said on 5 September:

“based on a body of intelligence, the Government have concluded that the two individuals named by the police and CPS are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU. The GRU is a highly disciplined organisation with a well-established chain of command, so this was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.”—[Official Report, 5 September 2018; Vol. 646, c. 168.]

The Opposition accept that analysis. I know that the shadow Home Secretary is grateful for the briefing given by the Security Minister on Privy Council terms earlier this week.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:38 p.m.

My hon. Friend the Member for Derby North is not a member of the shadow Front Bench, the last time I checked. It is up to Back Benchers on both sides of the House to put their views as they see fit—[Interruption.] Looking at the Back Benches today, I look forward to the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock).

On 4 March, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were admitted to hospital after emergency services responded to reports of them both being in an extremely serious condition. Mr Skripal and his daughter were left hospitalised for weeks. Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey also fell ill after attending the incident, and all three were later discharged from hospital. I pay tribute to Detective Sergeant Bailey for his fortitude and endurance in undergoing medical treatment. I also pay tribute to all the staff at the Salisbury District Hospital. The hon. Member for Salisbury (John Glen) is in his place. I hope that he will pass that on and pass on the gratitude of all sides of the House for what the staff did in those very difficult weeks.

The Prime Minister confirmed that the poisoning agent used on the Skripals was part of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok. A further 48 individuals were also assessed in hospital in relation to the incident. We of course also think of all of them and of what they went through at that time.

Four months later, on 30 June, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were also admitted to hospital, having been found unwell at a property in Amesbury. This only goes to show the abomination of using nerve agents in this way. They cannot be targeted. They leave a trail. Clearly, that is what seems to have happened in the case of Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess.

Having been admitted to hospital in a critical condition, Dawn Sturgess sadly died on 8 July, making her the only victim to have died as a result of exposure to this deadly nerve agent. The thoughts of everyone in this House are with her family and friends. I think we would all agree that a needless death has occurred on the streets of this country. After her death, a formal murder inquiry was launched. In July, the Home Secretary confirmed that tests at Porton Down confirmed that both Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess were poisoned by the same type of Novichok substance used to poison the Skripals. As I have already said clearly, and as the Prime Minister has set out, strong evidence points towards direct Russian culpability and we condemn the Russian state for that culpability.

I want to say a word about the police and the intelligence services. With 1,400 statements and more than 11,000 hours of CCTV—and a report from the OPCW that I mentioned in response to an intervention—we commend the police, the security services and the UK’s colleagues at the OPCW, as well as the people of Salisbury, for their patience, co-operation and fortitude in these very difficult circumstances. Following consideration of that evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service and Scotland Yard announced on 5 September that sufficient evidence had been collected to charge two Russian nationals, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. I choose my words very carefully as I refer to those two individual suspects. In her statement to the House on 5 September, the Prime Minister also stated that the same two men are the prime suspects in the case of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley.

We understand, as the Security Minister has set out, that on 2 March those two men travelled from Moscow to London on Russian passports. Two days later, the nerve agent Novichok was sprayed on the front door of the Skripals’ home in Salisbury, Wiltshire and and it seems that the individuals returned to Russia the same day. The police believe the pair arrived at Gatwick and stayed in the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road, east London. It is believed, as the Security Minister has set out, that a modified perfume bottle was used to bring the nerve agent into this country and to spray the door. It appears that Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were later exposed after handling a contaminated container.

The Prime Minister has indicated that, although there is no extradition treaty in place with Russia, as has already been mentioned in this debate, she has none the less issued an Interpol red notice and taken advantage of the European arrest warrant. The Security Minister and I debated this in the context of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill last night. We of course all hope that, after 29 March 2019, the European arrest warrant will still be valid and that the Government will have negotiated a position where that is the case.

The attack in Salisbury was an appalling act of violence. Nerve agents are abominable in any war and it is utterly reckless to have used them in a civilian environment in this way. In the words of the shadow Home Secretary in July:

“We cannot allow the streets of ordinary British towns and communities to become killing fields for state actors.”—[Official Report, 5 July 2018; Vol. 644, c. 537.]

The Security Minister has already set out the behaviour of the Russian state during the course of the investigation. Russia has consistently failed to answer the questions put to it by the international community. It has responded with obstinacy and mocking, which I suggest demonstrates a lack of respect for the gravitas of this situation. The language it has used is not the language of a state dedicated to helping to shed light on the events that have happened.

The use of this agent on the streets of Britain is shocking. The exposure to military grade nerve agents by a foreign state is a reckless, dangerous and egregious breach of international law. Opposition Members believe that it is incumbent on all states to act within international law and with respect for human rights.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:46 p.m.

I recognise the point that the hon. Gentleman made about condemning the Russian Government. I would like to put on the record the last statement by the Leader of the Opposition in his response to the statement last week, which was an opportunity to condemn the Russian state. I have just reread the response. There is condemnation about the act and the reckless use of a nerve agent and so on, but the closest I can find to a condemnation of the Government of Russia is the final line, which says that

“we will support any reasonable action to bring those responsible to justice and to take further action against Russia for its failure to co-operate with this investigation.”—[Official Report, 5 September 2018; Vol. 646, c. 172.]

What I do not see is a condemnation of the Russian Government for this act in Salisbury. I ask the hon. Gentleman to make it clear that it is his party’s position and his leader’s position that they condemn the Government of Russia for this act.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:47 p.m.

I am quite happy to do that. When I set out the statements by the Leader of the Opposition, I was quoting both his words following the Prime Minister’s statement and indeed what his spokesperson said on his behalf. I will read again—I have already read it once to the House—what the Leader of the Opposition’s spokesperson said on 6 September, the day after the Hansard extract to which the Security Minister referred:

“It’s clear now that very strong evidence points to Russian state culpability, and obviously Jeremy condemns the Russian state for that culpability.”

It could not be any clearer. That is what my right hon. Friend said through his spokesperson. There it is.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:47 p.m.

He could have said it in the statement.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:47 p.m.

Well, that is the position. I have read out the position pretty clearly. It is the second time I have done so. I say to the Security Minister: we worked in a consensual way on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill and I hope that we can continue to do that in our response to this terrible incident and send out a very clear message that we are united in the measures that need to be taken to keep our country safe.

The expulsion of the diplomats has already been mentioned in the discussion in this House. They were identified by the Prime Minister as undeclared intelligence officers. This also led to the amendment of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill that—

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

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 11 September 2018

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:17 p.m.

The hon. Member for Torfaen is absolutely right; it is set out quite clearly in the 2000 Act. The reasonable excuse defence is a good defence. It will cover journalists and academics, which is important. It would also mean that the prosecution is unlikely to commence in those circumstances, because it would not pass the Crown Prosecution Service threshold test of being in the public interest and of there being a realistic prospect of conviction. The police and the CPS are rightly focused on those who pose a genuine threat, and have no interest in wasting their valuable time investigating and prosecuting people who pose no threat, where there is no public interest and no prospect of conviction.

Amendment 3 expands the offence of viewing information likely to be useful to a terrorist, so that it also includes otherwise accessing such material through the internet. This is simply intended to ensure that the offence captures non-visual means of accessing information such as audio recordings, in addition to video, written information or other material that can be viewed.

The Government recognise the sensitivities of the issues, and the need to ensure proportionality and to provide appropriate safeguards. We have been open to exploring how clause 3 can be improved in order to do so in a clearer and more certain way. But we make no apologies for sending a clear message that it is unacceptable to view or stream such serious and harmful terrorist material without a reasonable excuse, nor for having in place robust penalties for those who abuse modern online technology to do so. We consider that clause 3, as amended, is both proportionate and necessary in order to allow the police to take action to protect the public from potentially very serious threats.

Government amendment 5 responds to the oral evidence heard by the Public Bill Committee about the maximum penalty for the offence of failure to disclose information about acts of terrorism. Section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000 makes it an offence to fail to disclose to the police information that might be of material assistance in preventing an act of terrorism or in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of terrorism. This offence might apply in a case where a person, not themselves a terrorist, knows that a family member or a friend is planning or has committed an act of terrorism and fails to inform the police. In his evidence to the Committee, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill QC, argued that the maximum penalty for this offence is too low and should be increased. Having considered the issue further in the light of recent cases, we agree. Those who know that others are engaging in, or planning, terrorist activity have a clear duty to inform the police about such actions. Where people do have information about attack planning or other terrorist activity and they fail to inform the police, it is right that we have appropriately stringent sentencing options in place. An increase in the maximum penalty from five to 10 years’ imprisonment will send a clear signal about the seriousness of this offence.

This group of amendments also includes amendment 13, in the name of the hon. Member for Torfaen, which seeks to provide for an independent review of the Prevent programme. I shall wait to hear what he has to say about that amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:24 p.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for setting out the issue of the designated area offence.

Before I turn to that, I join entirely with the Minister in his opening remarks marking the anniversary today of the terrible attacks on the twin towers on 9/11 in 2001, and indeed his remarks about the inquest on the Westminster bridge attack. We all join together in paying tribute to our emergency services, to the first responders in the United States, and to all the families who were affected by those terrible events. Of course, as we debate this legislation today we bear in mind that experience, and indeed the experience of other terror attacks.

I am pleased by and accept what the Minister said in apology for the late arrival of this new clause. I am sure he will appreciate that it was disappointing that we were not able to subject it to scrutiny in Committee, because it would obviously have been more useful had we been able to do so. Of course, that does not mean that we will not want to put it to scrutiny in the other place, and we certainly will do that, but I would have liked to have been a position to give it more scrutiny before today. None the less, I accept that, as legislators, we have to look to deal with the threat that foreign fighters pose to this country when they return, and I am not proposing that the Opposition oppose this measure. However imperfect legislation can be, the rule of law is paramount. If we ever sacrifice the rule of law—if we undermine our own values in dealing with those who seek to destroy them—then we lower ourselves to the level of their barbarism.

I am pleased that, in dealing with this, the Minister has rejected calls to update the law of treason, which, after all, reached our statute book in 1351, has not been used since 1945, and was meant for a different age. We are also pleased that the Minister has rejected calls simply to dole out justice summarily and arbitrarily, which would undermine the rule of law. Unfortunately, other members of the Government—not least the Defence Secretary, I am afraid, last December—have previously suggested that. I am glad that those courses for dealing with this have clearly been rejected by the Minister.

As the Minister set out, new clause 2 designates in a statutory instrument laid before Parliament an area for the purpose of protecting members of the public from terrorism. In a letter to me, the Minister made it clear that such a statutory instrument would be introduced via the affirmative procedure, so that whenever an area was to be designated, it would be done on the Floor of the House. I hope he can confirm that that will be the case.

As the new clause sets out,

“It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that the person had a reasonable excuse for entering, or remaining in, the designated area.”

That reasonable excuse defence will be an extremely important safeguard. I also draw attention to what Max Hill QC, the current Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said in October 2017:

“those who travelled out of a sense of naivety, possibly with some brainwashing along the way, possibly in their mid-teens and who return in a state of utter disillusionment…we have to leave space for those individuals to be diverted away from the criminal courts.”

Prosecutorial discretion and whether prosecution is in the public interest will, of course, be vital in this area.

While it is essential to deal with this matter by legislation, we will want to look at it in more detail, particularly in the other place. I welcome what the Minister said about being willing to work constructively on this, as he has on other parts of the Bill. We clearly cannot guarantee where future conflicts will take place, but we have to be prepared for those eventualities. We will want to look at the mechanism by which the Home Secretary designates these areas and ensure that we have appropriate safeguards. I am sure that nobody in this House would want to discourage aid workers and other people who we want to be in these areas from going to them. That clearly is not the intention of this law, and we will have to look at how we can ensure that that is the case.

I turn to the issue of seizing flags. In evidence to the Committee, Assistant Commissioner Basu mentioned the absence of this power from the Bill. I have looked carefully at amendment 1, and I am grateful to the Minister for his briefing on the context of how this power will be used. The issue of the sensitivity with regard to Northern Ireland was raised in interventions on the Minister. I am grateful to hear that he has been in contact with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and I hope that that will continue.

At present, the issue is that police can only seize material with an arrest at the scene. Amendment 1 allows material to be seized where notice is given of a summons—in other words, the person does not have to be arrested at the scene, and a summons can follow within the prescribed six-month period. The person will still have to appear in court, but there will not have been an arrest at the scene. There is a suggestion of the power being used where there is not quite enough evidence to arrest someone at the scene, but I suspect that that would be extraordinarily rare in practice, because if a flag is in support of a proscribed organisation, it is difficult to see how someone would not be committing a criminal offence in those circumstances.

I tend to see this amendment in terms of how large protests will be managed. This power provides police at the scene with an additional option. It may well be the case that trying to arrest someone at the scene can either cause a public order problem or exacerbate one, and the summons method might be easier. It is not, of course, for us to comment on an operational matter. That would have to be a judgment of the police officer at the scene, but we can set out the framework. I expect that we will have to review how the power works in practice, but it is not my intention to oppose the amendment in principle.

I turn to the Government amendments on the three clicks offence, which has been raised in interventions on the Minister. I raised a number of concerns about this in Committee and tabled a total of five amendments on it. First, let me say that I understand why the law needs to be updated in this area. It was designed for a different internet age, when people tended to download content and watch it. It does not cover those who stream it, and clearly it must cover those who do so. The difficulty in my view is that the three clicks approach simply creates more problems than it solves, and I am grateful to the Minister for listening in that regard.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 6:52 p.m.

I will start if I may by addressing the amendments in this group. First, let me turn to the Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order. Amendments 6 and 7 respond to the debate in Committee about the provisions of clause 14, which, among other things, will enable a traffic authority to impose reasonable charges in connection with the making of an Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order or Notice.

In Committee, I indicated that I would consider amendments tabled by the hon. Members for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) and for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) designed to prohibit charges from being imposed on the organisers of public processions and assemblies. They were quite properly concerned about protecting the right to peaceful protest. Having considered the matter further, I agree that it should not be possible to impose those charges as they have suggested, and amendments 6 and 7 ensure that that is the case.

Throughout the Bill, I have made it my business to make sure that we make changes with as much consensus as possible. I have made the point that, in my time as an Opposition Back Bencher, I rarely, if ever, saw my party or the Opposition get any concession—small or big—from the Government. I do not take that attitude in legislation, and I am delighted that we could make concessions. The Opposition and the SNP were correct in making their points, and it is right that we have put them on the statute book in the right place.

The other Government amendments in this group concern the new power in schedule 3 to stop, search, question and detain persons at a port for the purpose of determining whether they are, or have been, engaged in hostile state activity. It is important to note that this is an exact mirror of schedule 7 concerning counter-terrorism as was introduced by the previous Labour Government in 2000. Therefore, all of the questions raised by hon. and hon. and learned Members from all parts of the House should be put in context that some of those issues have been in existence for 18 years—the point on the Irish border, for example. The power was specifically introduced into the Bill to deal with the aftermath of the attack in Salisbury in March. The point is that, in an open trading liberal democracy, we are vulnerable to hostile states abusing that ability to travel and that openness to come and do harm to our society and our citizens. It is a very real threat.

This was in fact considered before last March because the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson—who has often been quoted by the Opposition— highlighted the fact that we were stopping people we suspected of hostile state activity under schedule 7 counter-terrorism stops, and said that hostile state activity needed its own separate stop power. We agreed with his observations and have acted on them. It was a tragic coincidence that the attack happened in March, reminding us just how hostile some states can be.

Amendment 10 is about oversight and representations to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, as we seek to allow those representations also to be made in writing. It is incredibly important that we have these powers. We face a real challenge if a state—as opposed to an amateur or a terrorist—seeks to penetrate our border supported by the logistics of that state. An example is the recent case of GRU officers entering this country with genuine passports, logistically supported by the wider state. This type of activity is better disguised. It is not as easy as it is to stop someone with a rather dodgy back story who is coming here for the purposes of terrorism. This is serious, which is why it is important to take this power.

I know that there is concern about having no requirement for suspicion. That goes to the heart of the ability for us sometimes to action intelligence that is broad. For example, we might know about a certain route that is used or about certain flights in a period of a week, but known no more beyond that. We need to be able to act on that intelligence effectively on the spot.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I accept that point. Indeed, I set it out in my speech. Our concern is specifically in relation to Northern Ireland. How best are we going to secure accountability for how the power is used?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I agree. We have had the power regarding the Northern Ireland border, or any other border, since 2000. In theory, we able to deal with matters using a counter-terrorism stop. Over the years, I have never seen so much nonsense written about the border of Northern Ireland. I have patrolled the border. I have lived on the border. I have been on the border of Northern Ireland as the Minister for Northern Ireland. I have known the varying powers—the smugglers and the people involved—on that thing for decades.

There have always checks and stops on the border. There has been a different customs regime on the border of Northern Ireland since the 1920s. Famous smugglers have taken advantages of duty differences. There have been different tax ratios, duties and powers to make immigration stops, and we have carried these out even since the Good Friday agreement. In fact, one of the last things I did before the reshuffle that made me the Security Minister was to stand on the road near Newry doing a traffic stop of cars coming across from Ireland; they were squeezing the money out of me during my time there. These checks have always happened. This has happened for counter-terrorism for the last 18 years and we feel that should be mirrored in the case of hostile state activity.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 6:59 p.m.

I can clarify briefly. If we had a line of reporting that said, in a certain week, that there was intelligence that a hostile state was seeking to come in via Heathrow airport, but we only had a certain time period, or if we had some intelligence that someone from a hostile state was coming in on a plane on a Monday through there, and we were therefore choosing to focus on those planes, that would be too broad to issue a specific warrant, and too broad for us to seek a warrant to search everybody’s bags covertly on the whole aeroplane. Everyone would be standing around worrying how long it was going to take. This is a power that reflects the operational pressure. On the Front Bench spokesman’s question about oversight, when someone is stopped under this power, a report will be taken and made to the judicial commissioner, who has the power of oversight. I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that it will be recorded, and if materials are retained—journalistic or legal—that, again, will involve a permission needing to be given in order to examine it.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:01 p.m.

On the point about consultation with a lawyer, I have offered a very practical solution. Will the Minister at least undertake to look at that before this Bill goes to the other place?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:02 p.m.

I know that the hon. Gentleman absolutely means the best in making his recommendation. I certainly give him the assurance that I will take it away and look at it before the Bill’s introduction in the other place. Many of his points about giving reassurance to people are certainly valid. He accepts, I think, that there is a risk that a state that has deliberately planned to enter this country will sometimes be making sure—if they do a proper operation—that the so-called lawyer they would consult would be in a position to be tipped off. That is why his suggestion is a good one, and I promise to take a look at it.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:07 p.m.

I would say to them and to anyone else that the first duty of a Government is security, and it is absolutely important that we maintain that. The message to Michel Barnier is that security is not a competition; it is a partnership. I hope he will reflect that in his negotiations with this country, but I do not believe that putting it on the face of primary legislation is the best way to go about it, especially as it is our Government’s ask to the European Union on that issue. I therefore urge the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) to withdraw his new clause.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:07 p.m.

I certainly will not be withdrawing my new clause. Continued participation in the European arrest warrant is vital for the security of this country. Can the Minister name another example of a Minister failing to vote for a part of a Bill he agreed with?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:08 p.m.

I would be interested to know whether the hon. Gentleman could name a single Labour Minister who, during the passage of any European treaty or any other treaty, put the negotiating position—not the results of the negotiation, but the negotiating position—in primary legislation. I do not think he will find one. We do not intend to put it in primary legislation, especially because it is what we are asking for and we do not need to. I therefore urge hon. Members to reject the new clause.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I do not find that explanation convincing in any sense.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:23 p.m.

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

On 22 May last year, I was woken from my slumber by the tragic news of the attack on the Manchester Arena: the murder of women, children and men who had been out enjoying their day and night at the arena. A member of ISIS chose to target them ruthlessly, in a way that showed total discrimination, when they were at their least defensible. Last year, society faced numerous attacks from terrorists. In March this year, we saw the reckless and very dangerous use of the Novichok nerve agent on our streets, which sadly led to the death of a British citizen.

The Government did not knee-jerk—we did not jump, as has sometimes happened over the past few decades, to take measures. The Government considered the issues, considered our vulnerabilities and not only took strong steps to produce a Bill that will help our security forces and our police tackle the changing threats, but were determined to be as collaborative as possible throughout the legislating process. Tonight, Members will have heard how we rightly accepted the observations from the Labour Front Bench and the SNP about some of the measures. The Labour party and the Government discussed the streaming of content online and came up with a sensible solution to make sure that people who stream horrific material are brought to justice.

This is not an attention-seeking Bill; it is a Bill designed to make a difference, to make our streets safer, to make our citizens safer and to send a message that one of the reasons the United Kingdom is one of the world leaders in counter-terrorism is that we not only learn our lessons from every event, but build on the experience of previous Governments. Much of the Bill is built on the back of the Terrorism Act 2000, which was brought in by the last Labour Government. We have taken the best elements and learned from our experiences and the threats to produce a piece of legislation that in my view and that of the Government strikes the right balance between liberty, individuals’ rights and the security of this nation. It is a balance that we do not take for granted and that we review constantly.

That is why this country probably has some of the greatest oversight of its intelligence services, ably led by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), the judicial commissioners, Lord Justice Fulford and the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. All of those learned and respected individuals take a strong role, as do the Members who sit on the Intelligence and Security Committee, in scrutinising the people who are charged with delivering the security of this nation. That, coupled with our long adherence to human rights, makes me confident that the Bill does not tip the balance in the wrong way, but navigates the difficult course that we are faced with, given the emerging technologies, to keep people safe.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:29 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman’s points are well made but, with respect to him, I need to draw to a close.

If it is passed, this Bill, much of which has the support of all parties in this House, will leave this House doing the right thing to keep people safe, striking the right balance with our rights and allowing us to remember those people who in the last few months and years have lost their lives tragically to terrorism and, lately, to the actions of a hostile state. I am afraid we must remember that out there, there are very bad people, very bad terrorist organisation and, nowadays, some very bad states who wish to do real harm to our values. This Bill protects our values, but deals with the issues and gives our security services and police forces the tools that they need.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:31 p.m.

The UK national threat level, set by the independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the security services, has been at severe or higher since 29 August 2014. We put on the record our debt of gratitude to the police and the security services for the work they do in keeping us safe. Since the terrible murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2013, 25 terrorist attacks in the UK have been foiled. We should never forget that as we consider this Bill.

In June 2016, there was the terrorism-related murder of our late colleague in the Labour party, Jo Cox, and between March and September 2017, there were a further five terrorist outrages, at Westminster, on 22 March, at Manchester arena, on 22 May, at London Bridge, on 3 June, at Finsbury Park, on 19 June, and at Parsons Green, on 15 September—although, mercifully, no one was killed in that final attack. It is fundamental that our approach in legislation does not undermine the very values that the terrorists seek to attack. The rule of law has to be fundamental to our approach.

I am grateful for the consensual approach that the Security Minister has taken on the Bill and the concessions he has made. The concession in respect of the three clicks in clause 3 makes it a better Bill. The concession on clause 14 and the preservation of the right to peaceful protest is very important, too, and is very much a part of what he rightly said about protecting our own values as an open, liberal and tolerant democracy.

I hope that this consensual approach can now continue into the Lords. As I indicated in my speech on the first set of new clauses and amendments, I am concerned that the designated areas clause came so late, and we will therefore want to subject it to scrutiny. As I indicated, we are not opposing it, but I would like to subject it to appropriate scrutiny—and I am sure it will be so subjected in the other place. I hope that the Minister will continue to work with me in that regard.

In addition, the Minister made two concessions during our debate on the second set of new clauses and amendments. First, he said he would look at the situation in Northern Ireland and accountability for the number of stops. I appreciate what he said about that. Of course, powers have been in place since 2000, but we have to ensure transparency in how the stop power is used. The second concession was on legal professional privacy. He knows that I feel passionately about this and have set out its key importance. He said that he would look at my very practical proposal before the Bill goes to the other place. That was, I accept, a concession. I hope he will continue to work on a consensual basis. Under my proposal, we would not need to balance liberty and security; we could have the position as it is but with a very practical solution.

Before drawing my remarks to a close, I want to put on the record my thanks to the Minister, the rest of my colleagues in the shadow Home Affairs team, the Members who served on the Committee and finally the Clerks who served the Committee so well as well as all of us who wished to put down new clauses and amendments on Report.

See more like "Draft Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice and miscellaneous amendments) order 2018"

Draft Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice and miscellaneous amendments) order 2018
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 16 July 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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General Committees
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
16 Jul 2018, 6 p.m.

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice and Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2018.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000—RIPA—provides the regulatory framework to govern the use and authorisation of a number of investigatory techniques, ensuring that their use by public authorities is compliant with the right to privacy under article 8 of the European convention on human rights. The provisions of RIPA and related legislation, including the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, play a most important role in the work of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as other public bodies with enforcement or regulatory functions. The techniques authorised under these Acts are crucial in enabling investigators to obtain intelligence and evidence that can prevent terrorist attacks, disrupt the activities of serious organised crime groups, establish culpability so that offenders can be brought to justice and effectively enforce a long list of laws and regulations.

The framework that RIPA established ensures that there are strong and transparent safeguards appropriate to the intrusive nature of these investigatory powers, ensuring that they are used lawfully and proportionately. The Investigatory Powers Act fundamentally overhauled the safeguards around a number of powers and the oversight of all investigatory powers. All these safeguards, the clear requirements set out in the codes of practice and the independent oversight provided by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner establish clear limits around the use of these powers, and ultimately provide reassurance to the public that the powers are being used in ways that serve the best interests of us all.

The order introduces three revised codes of practice as well as making some amendments and updates to the public authorities authorised to use surveillance powers under RIPA. The order also makes a minor technical amendment to provisions on the use of combined warrants under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The revised codes of practice provide guidance on specific investigatory powers that are regulated by RIPA, as well as by the Police Act 1997 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994. These are covert surveillance, property interference, covert human intelligence sources and the investigation of protected electronic information.

The CHIS and covert surveillance codes of practice, originally issued in 2002 and last updated in 2014, and the investigation of protected electronic information code have been updated to ensure that the guidance remains relevant and keeps pace with change. These updates are necessitated mainly by the changes made by the Investigatory Powers Act. This includes reflecting the creation of the new Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the changes made by the introduction of equipment interference as a technique separate to the existing property interference powers, and the need to mirror the strengthened safeguards for the handling of confidential and privileged material introduced by the Investigatory Powers Act.

A number of other updates and clarifications to the guidance reflect and improve current operational practice. These include expanded guidance on procedures to be followed where investigators use the internet for covert investigatory purposes, where covert surveillance is undertaken by means of drones and provisions intended to reinforce the safety of covert human intelligence sources.

Alongside the codes of practice, we are updating the lists of the public authorities and officers able to authorise the use of directed surveillance and covert human intelligence sources. These lists are in themselves a safeguard against the inappropriate or indiscriminate use of the investigatory powers, as they ensure that their use is limited to specified public authorities and can only be authorised by specified officers within those authorities, who have sufficient authority and expertise. These updates ensure that public authorities can continue to authorise the use of investigatory powers following changes to their organisational structures, and remove any authorities that no longer require the powers.

Finally, we are taking this opportunity to make a minor correction to the arrangements under the Investigatory Powers Act for authorising a combined warrant. This corrects a technical error, which meant that Parliament’s clear original intention that warrants should last for six months was limited to the clearly far too short period of two working days. This can never have been the intention, and so we are taking the opportunity to correct the error. This is a timely improvement that will be of assistance to our intelligence services as they set about their tasks of identifying and disrupting threats to our national security.

All the changes made by this order, both to the codes of practice and the authorisation framework for the powers, ensure that the highest standards continue to be required of those using the powers, and that they are underpinned by ever stronger safeguards against their misuse.

I commend the order to the Committee.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
16 Jul 2018, 6:05 p.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I say at the outset that it is not the intention of the Opposition to oppose this statutory instrument.

First, I should refer to the general approach taken to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, during whose passage the Government accepted a significant number of amendments. That was an entirely appropriate way in which to proceed, and I pay tribute to my predecessors in the shadow home affairs team, who obviously worked for the Opposition on that Bill, and also to my predecessor as Member of Parliament for Torfaen, now Lord Murphy, who chaired the Joint Committee that looked at the Bill and recommended a substantial number of amendments that were accepted by the Government. It is with that approach in mind that I look at the order.

As the Minister set out, the order brings into force three revised codes of practice relating to covert surveillance and property interference, to covert human intelligence sources and to the investigation of protected electronic information. These revised codes will, of course, replace the previous version. I agree with the Minister that it is obviously important that the codes of practice keep pace with change. The codes of practice in themselves are important safeguards as we try to balance the obvious needs of security with liberty and appropriate safeguards for that.

The second part of the order relates to public authorities and updates the public authorities listed in schedule 1 to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in order to authorise direct surveillance and indeed use or conduct of covert human intelligence sources. It also sets out those within public authorities who may authorise these activities, and the purposes for authorisation. Again, those would seem to the Opposition to be entirely sensible measures.

On the third part of the order and the combined warrants, there was, as the Minister has set out, an unintended effect on warrant duration, which the order entirely appropriately seeks to correct. The double lock system of Secretary of State authorisation and judicial commissioner approval is a very important part of the overall framework, and very important in terms of the safeguards that are set out.

On that basis, the Opposition do not intend to oppose the order.

See more like "Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Seventh sitting)"

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Seventh sitting)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 10 July 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Read Full debate
Public Bill Committees
Home Office
Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:27 a.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Main.

We had a wide-ranging debate on this issue in Committee last week. I want to raise the specific issues in amendments 42 and 43 and to support what the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North said about the importance of legal professional privilege. It is obviously a cornerstone of our criminal justice—indeed, our justice—system and is admired around the world as a gold standard, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out.

However, in the cases we are talking about, it is not as if we must have a trade-off between two purist positions. In my view, there is a simple, practical solution to the problem before us, which should satisfy the Government’s concerns about people who are detained passing on messages to others through a lawyer who either acts knowingly or is not in the know. I responded to the Minister on that point last week.

Legal professional privilege is circumscribed by the codes of conduct that govern lawyers in our country. No lawyer can be a party to an illegal act, and they have, of course, to be very mindful of money laundering regulations. The practical solution I suggest in amendment 43 is that the Law Society approve solicitors to provide advice to persons detained. Such solicitors would be subject to the professional code of conduct, which would plug the gap in the legislation as it stands, with people simply not having access to a lawyer at all.

I put that suggestion to Richard Atkinson, the co-chair of the Law Society’s criminal law committee, in the 26 June evidence session. I said:

“From what you are saying, there is a practical solution for any legitimate concerns there may be. There is also a situation—in a police station, for example—where you can have a duty solicitor or lawyer made available. That person could be someone of particular standing and reputation in whom we could all have faith and whom we would not have those concerns about.”

Richard Atkinson replied, “Absolutely. Again, code H”—he was referring to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984—

“allows exactly for that. If there are specific concerns about a lawyer, the duty lawyer or solicitor can be called to come and advise. That maintains privilege and maintains the defendant’s access to advice at that point.”—[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Public Bill Committee, 26 June 2018; c. 27, Q56.]

This proposal would not involve a large number of cases. The Minister will recall his own questions to Richard Atkinson, when he asked whether a lawyer would be required every single time there was a stop, which clearly is not the point. The provisions apply only when we get to the questioning stage, as set out in the evidence.

The right to private legal advice can be maintained if we adopt the idea that solicitors approved by the Law Society can provide that advice. The arguments that the Minister made against the proposal last week—that those lawyers would somehow inadvertently hand on information—are incredible. These lawyers would be subject to training in this area and would have to act with the highest professional standards. Nor would it be a restriction on the right to confidential legal advice to have a limited number of, say, panel lawyers who are able to provide it.

I urge the Minister to go back and look at this proposal for Report stage. The Government’s concerns can be allayed if they put in place a practical scheme that would be limited only in terms of the number of people who would have to deal with it but that would have the crucial effect of maintaining the very important principle of legal professional privilege, upon which our criminal justice system is based.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:29 a.m.

Good morning, Mrs Main. I am delighted to serve under your chairmanship.

The challenge is that we are losing sight of what a schedule 7 or a schedule 3 stop is: it is to establish the purpose and intent of an individual travelling at our borders. The vast majority of the current stops under counter-terrorism measures are for people leaving the country and not returning. We do them in an environment in which the new challenge is the digital data that people are carrying with them.

If we were standing here in 1992, the limit of the examination would be what people had on them—what they had in their bag and pockets. Those things can currently be examined; the power to stop someone to do that, in public or in private, has been in existence for many years, whether it is a customs and border stop or simply an immigration stop. Some of that is purely screening and may take minutes, which was part of my questioning to the Law Society of England and Wales when it gave evidence.

The core of these schedules is to establish that purpose and intent. Because of the challenge of digital media, it is obviously harder to establish that in the shorter periods you might have been able to do it in in the past. That is why the last Labour Government introduced the power in 2000. If we magnify these things, 18 years on, when everyone has a smartphone—not just a mobile phone—which can carry gigabytes of data, we can understand the potential challenge our law enforcement agencies face at the border.

That, at its heart, is what this stop is about. It is not about an interview under caution at a police station, which can usually be an integral part of the investigation and evidence. The verbal evidence given in these stops is not admissible in court, so if I give up information in my interview, that cannot be used in itself as the basis of a prosecution. That is why that is there.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:36 a.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. All that he has said so far is perfectly fine. It is just that there is a specific provision in the Bill that allows for an examining officer to overhear what is said between lawyer and client. The Government’s justification for that is the concern that the lawyer would, somehow, inadvertently pass on information. I have suggested a practical solution—I put it to Richard Atkinson of the Law Society in the evidence panel—that would deal with all the concerns the Minister has put forward so far, but also maintain legal professional privilege. What is wrong with that suggestion?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:38 a.m.

I will come to that. I am setting the scene of why we need this power.

Then we come to the two amendments and the ancient right to access a lawyer and legal advice. First, on the right to a lawyer, if you are detained beyond an hour at these stops, you then have a right to a lawyer. I suspect that, in 2000, when this law was introduced by the last Labour Government, it was decided that an hour was a reasonable time for that type of screening examination, which is similar to the question, “Could I search your bag?” from a customs officer and so on. That was a reasonable time. When you go beyond that hour, you have the right to a lawyer.

Another part of that very old and dear right within the UK legal system is the right to have a lawyer of your choice. It is not just, “And here is a selection of vetted lawyers decided by the state.” There are two rights here. The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North talks about the right to access a lawyer.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:38 a.m.

The last characterisation is simply so open to challenge: the idea that there are panels of lawyers for so many different things. My suggestion simply brings the law in line with what already exists in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and that was why the Law Society agreed with it. This idea of the state choosing the lawyer simply does not hold water, given the reality of the legal profession. In addition, in terms of what we are talking about—legal professional privilege—confidentiality is the key. It is not about the right of access, but the right of confidential discussion, and it is justification for taking that away that is the big concern.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:39 a.m.

I will get to that. Whether it is the Law Society or the state that defines the duty roster, the point is made that a detained individual should have a right to choose their own lawyer. The Law Society can produce a panel or a duty solicitors’ roster, but that does not impinge on someone detained in a police station tonight saying, “Thank you for that. I am going to pick my own lawyer.”

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:39 a.m.

I am grateful for that. Could the Minister indicate, then, whether it is the Government’s intention to repeal the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which already includes a provision like this one?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:39 a.m.

Let me get to the next bit, which is also about the right not to be overheard—for legal privilege to be protected—and the idea that that is somehow absolute. It has never been absolute. The justification for that not being absolute was that the last Labour Government introduced paragraph 9 of schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000, which says:

“A direction under this paragraph may provide that a detained person who wishes to exercise the right…may consult a solicitor only in the sight and hearing of a qualified officer.”

The principle of, effectively, allowing the law enforcement agencies to do that, subject to chief officer authorisation, is not a new precedent that we are setting, as the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North seems to suggest. It has existed for 18 years. The last Labour Government viewed that as important enough for it to happen when it applies to TACT offenders in a police station setting, never mind in a schedule setting. That is where that policy idea came from. It has not been rustled up in the last year. It has been around for 18 years.

If I was arrested tomorrow morning and taken to a police station, rather than the border, and I wanted to consult a solicitor, I would find that, if there were reasonable grounds—or stronger than that—and the chief officer gave permission, that discussion could, on a very few occasions, be listened to. It is not at all about “inadvertently”; it is about the few individuals, who, as I witnessed in the early ’90s, exploit that relationship for the simple purpose of tipping off or undermining or disposing of evidence. Under those circumstances, the power has already existed.

I bring the hon. Member for Torfaen back to the point of this schedule stop. What is this stop really about? The verbal evidence given is not admissible in court, and this is not the same as sitting in a police station. This is about effectively establishing the intent, the identity and the basic details at the time of a border stop.

Given that we are a free and open society, it is at our border that we are most vulnerable. Once someone is within our community, because of the way we live our lives, quite rightly, they have free movement and free everything. I am delighted that those are our values, but if we are to keep that special, and maintain that freedom within the United Kingdom, we have to be able to give that power for the simple purpose of establishing the intent—the who and the what—at our border.

The new schedule applies to hostile state activities and to people who come here to attack and undermine the very state that allows us to enjoy those freedoms. That does not put in peril the strength of our justice system and the right to a lawyer and to a fair trial—I am a Scot, and we take a slightly different philosophical view on the right to a jury, which is a very Norman thing in England and Wales. That is why I believe that these measures are proportionate and necessary to keep us safe, and I do not believe that going back on the principle established 18 years ago would keep us safe; in fact, we would be unpicking well-established law.

Funnily enough, in my two years as Security Minister, I have had lots of representations on the use of schedule 7 and whether people have a right to compensation, whether the schedule is abused, and whether we should be cleverer and faster in using it, so it does not impinge on people’s journeys. I have not yet had a representation in those two years to ask for paragraph 9 of schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000 to be undone. Therefore, the Government will not accept these amendments and will leave the schedule to stand, for the purpose of screening the who, what, where and when at our border and of taking into account the large amounts of data some of these individuals carry on their way into this country.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:44 a.m.

Amendment 48 relates to the new hostile state activities ports power in schedule 3. Paragraph 27 of schedule 4 already makes provision for persons detained under schedule 3 in England and Wales to be eligible for legal aid in order to pay for legal advice and assistance they obtain concerning their detention.

Amendment 48 makes analogous provision for Northern Ireland. It brings the provision of legal aid and assistance for individuals detained in Northern Ireland under schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 or schedule 3 to this Bill, in line with what is currently provided for when an individual is arrested and held under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Before the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North asks, “What about Scotland?” I can advise the Committee that the Scottish Government will bring forward any necessary secondary legislation to make equivalent provision in Scotland.

Amendment 49 is consequential on the changes we are making to the notification regime for terrorist offenders. Paragraph 40 of schedule 4 amends the notification requirements in respect of foreign travel so that a terrorist offender must inform the police of any intended foreign travel and not just, as now, any foreign travel lasting three days or more. Amendment 49 ensures that this change flows through to the requirement on a terrorist offender to notify the police of their return to the UK.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:49 a.m.

I rise simply to support the Minister’s position. They both seem sensible amendments in that context.

Amendment 48 agreed to.

Amendment made: 49, page 80, line 27, in Schedule 4, at end insert—

‘( ) in regulation 5 (notification of return), in paragraph (1), omit “for a period of three days or more”.’ —(Mr Wallace.)

Regulation 5 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (Foreign Travel Notification Requirements) Regulations 2009 requires a person to whom the notification requirements apply who leaves the United Kingdom for a period of three days or more to notify the police of the date of their return and the point of their arrival in the United Kingdom within three days of their return (if they did not notify this information before leaving the United Kingdom). This amendment would ensure that regulation 5 applies to a person who leaves the United Kingdom for any period of time instead of only for periods of three days or more.

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 22

Notification requirements: transitional provisions

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 9:50 a.m.

Clause 22 is a very exciting clause. It makes transitional provisions in respect of the changes to the notification scheme for terrorist offenders made by clauses 11 and 12. The changes will apply to terrorist offenders who are made subject to the notification requirements after clauses 11 and 12 come into force, as well as those who are subject to such requirements when the changes take place. Generally, that means that a terrorist offender who is already subject to the existing notification requirements must provide the police with the additional information within three months of the provision coming into force—in effect, within five months of Royal Assent. The police will ensure that existing registered terrorist offenders are informed of the new requirements being placed upon them.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 22 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 23 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 24

Extent

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:03 a.m.

Let me briefly add my support to what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark. I pay tribute to him for the work he has done on this issue and a number of others in light of the terrible events at London Bridge and Borough market in his constituency last year. I think he highlights an important issue that is of great concern to a number of people, and I am pleased to support the new clause he has put forward.

There is great concern about the issue. My hon. Friend was right to draw a distinction between the costs of administration and clear and excessive profits. I do not think anyone is suggesting that there is a problem with having an administration cost or that those organisations involved in raising money in what are often emotionally charged and difficult circumstances need to be able to cover the costs of administration. The concern is about excessive profits being made by those particular organisations, and that concern has been expressed by my constituents. People have no objection to giving money, and they want to give money. There is great charitable intent among the British public, particularly when coming together after terrible events, but there is great concern about giving money some of which is siphoned off for clear profit for another organisation in the most awful circumstances. I support what my hon. Friend said, and I hope that the Minister will give some reassurance on this matter.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:05 a.m.

The hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark made, as with his other points, a passionate appeal to do something about this issue, as a direct result of working with his constituents in Borough market. Charities in this country do an incredible amount of work. I think the public gave more than £10.3 billion to charity in 2017. As a British citizen, I am incredibly proud that it is still in our nature to contribute to a range of charities. The establishment of the Charity Commission has played a hugely important role in supporting and helping to co-ordinate the work of fundraisers and charities in responding to such major incidents.

We should also reflect that it is not the incidents that define people’s hurt, need and suffering. The pain and goodwill of the husband, wife, brother or sister of someone desperately trying to raise money for an operation abroad, someone trying to raise money for the hospice where their father died, someone raising money to deal with someone injured in a car accident, or someone trying to campaign for change or for the NHS, for example, to produce some new treatment, are the same as those trying to support victims of terrorism. Someone who has lost their children at the hands of knife crime, not terrorism, will feel no different to, and no less a victim than, any other victims. I am not saying that the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark suggested that.

There are emergencies all the time that result in a significant loss of life. Thankfully, they are not all caused by terrorism; in fact, they are very rarely caused by terrorism, and I would not seek to put a line on one versus another. I would not seek to say that one incident deserves a cap or a lesser fee than the other. We have to get to grips with the core of what needs to be put right.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:32 a.m.

I had hoped that the Brexit word was never going to pass anyone’s lips in this Committee. On the penultimate new clause, I had hoped we would have had the chance of a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, the word has ventured into the Committee.

The aims of the new clause tabled by the hon. Member for Torfaen are exactly the aims of the Government’s negotiating position. We want access to the European arrest warrant. We want to play a full part in Eurojust in that way. We have made an unconditional offer to the European Commission on security. However, the difference between our position and the proposed primary legislation is that we want that to be the outcome. The drafting of the new clause is flawed, as it would have a limited practical impact on the new clause. It does not oblige the Government to secure an outcome or prescribe how negotiations are conducted but merely affirms that it is a negotiating objective of the Government to do so.

It is conceivable that the Commission is already well aware of our negotiating aims—in fact, I can tell you that it is. The inclusion of the new clauses could provide the Commission with more weight to leverage those tools in the negotiations.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:34 a.m.

I am relieved to hear that the Commission is clear about our negotiating aims, but I would not be over-confident about that. On this crucial point, I am sure if I had been too prescriptive, the Minister would be jumping to his feet saying that I had not left enough flexibility for negotiation. Given that, so far, he has hardly disagreed with anything in the new clauses, I presume it is clear.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:34 a.m.

I do not believe the place for Government negotiation is in primary legislation. The ball is firmly in the court of the European Commission. Our position is an unconditional offer on security. The only time I ventured from the shelter of security to engage publicly on a European issue was when Michel Barnier said recently, in a rather dismissive and offhand manner, that we would not have access to any of these issues as a third country. That does not reflect the examples of special relationships with Europol, of which there are at least two—probably more.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned Denmark, which is unique as a member of the European Union that has pulled out of Europol. Switzerland and Norway, which are not EU members, have good access to Europol for the sharing of data. The point is, when the European Commission has wanted to, it has extended a bespoke or special unique relationship. I venture that the United Kingdom has contributed, shaped, funded and supported many of these European organisations. Europol was created predominantly by the United Kingdom, and it shares huge amounts of our data—our citizens’ data and our intelligence—with other European countries.

It is important that our unconditionality is taken on board and embraced by the Commission. My public venture to Mr Barnier, apart from a quip about gambling with safety, was that security was not a competition. We are not talking about trade. It is about working together, where the sum of the parts is greater than the individual contributions.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:41 a.m.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Prime Minister’s Munich speech in February, in which she continued to make this point about security—it is not a competition and our offer is open. The only danger to our security would be a dismissal by the European Commission out of hand and refusal to give us any intelligence or data. That would be a danger to us and to it; it would cut off its nose to spite its face.

All the Commission’s professionals, and member states’ intelligence services and police forces, are telling them that. In all my meetings with member states’ Interior and Security Ministers, they agree and concur. It is time that the Commission reflects that, because it is in the interests of European citizens to continue this relationship. It is not purely in our interest; it is in their interests, too.

The Prime Minister is absolutely determined on this point: a safer Europe is a safer Britain; and a safer Britain is a safer Europe. I do not think that will change. My simple dispute with the Opposition Front-Bench spokesperson is that I do not believe that this duty needs to sit in primary legislation.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:41 a.m.

I am confused as to why the Minister is indicating that he will vote against the new clause, because he seems to agree with it wholeheartedly.

First, it would make a difference to put it in primary legislation. It would send a clear message to the European Commission, about which the Minister is worried; it would reassure the public; and it would also give Government Members the chance really to put country above party, by supporting the new clause. I will therefore press it to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:55 a.m.

On a point of order, Mrs Main. Before we draw to a close, I would like, to conclude these proceedings in an orderly manner, to put on the record my thanks for your chairmanship and Ms Ryan’s chairmanship. I do not think that those on either the Government or the Opposition Benches disappointed the Chair—I hope not.

I also thank those on the Opposition Front Benches. I am always amiable to the hon. Members for Torfaen and for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, and try to accommodate them. As I set out at the very beginning, I have sought, where possible, to concede. I have conceded on the suggested improvements to clause 3—the three clicks—and to the Scottish National party about clarifying that there will be no charging for public order and the right to protest.

I do not know about you, Mrs Main, but I sat for years on the Opposition and Government Back Benches listening to the valiant efforts of Opposition MPs, who get no recognition whatever. I always promised myself that I would never allow that to happen as a Minister.

I thank my officials, who have been very patient when I have said, “That makes sense. Why can’t we do it?” to which the whole Government says, “The Minister might actually change something!” The Bill manager, in particular, has been incredibly patient. I am still determined to improve the Bill before it gets on to the statute book.

I thank the Clerks, the Hansard writers and the Doorkeepers for keeping us on the record and safe. I thank the lawyers from the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury, and our witnesses, who set out their clear positions at the beginning.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
10 Jul 2018, 10:55 a.m.

Further to that point of order, Mrs Main. I echo what the Minister said, and I thank him for taking a constructive approach to the Bill—he said on Second Reading that he would do that. I add my thanks to the Doorkeepers and the Hansard writers. I am very grateful to the Clerks, in particular, for dealing with the numerous amendments I emailed in.

I thank you, Mrs Main, and Ms Ryan for your excellent chairing of the Committee. I am very grateful to all the officials for their contribution to the Bill. I thank the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North for working so constructively, and the witnesses for giving us very helpful evidence and cause for debate throughout the Committee.

See more like "Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Sixth sitting)"

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Sixth sitting)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Thursday 05 July 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Read Full debate
Public Bill Committees
Home Office
Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:07 p.m.

I asked for reassurance from the Minister about leaving no stone unturned in the matter of past compensation. I do not think he responded to that when he was responding to the new clause, and I wonder if he would do so.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:08 p.m.

We want Pool Re to be dynamic and we want it to stimulate other insurers to meet the growing threat. The issue relates to a point I have made on numerous occasions—the number of travel insurances that have slowly, over the years, dropped terrorist insurance. It is not just about increasing insurance cover; it is important to keep an eye out for areas that are losing it. One of the lessons of last year is that we must be very much in touch with the affected communities—and it is about not only the human beings, but other aspects—to understand what has not been covered, and what more we can do.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:09 p.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for covering those issues. Last week he argued against compensation for past events—because a line would have to be drawn somewhere. He said there could be additional unfairness because if the past period was set at 12 months, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark suggested, something that happened two years ago would not attract the benefit, but something that happened six months ago would. The Minister said that that would create a new unfairness. I seek assurances that he will leave no stone unturned to find out whether anything can be done in relation to some of those past events, including the one at Borough market.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:09 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. I spoke to the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark after the Committee sitting last week. After last year’s attacks, mayors and local authorities got together and produced requests of Government, which we met, with £23 million or £24 million in Manchester. We also met a request from Salisbury.

I said to the hon. Gentleman, “Let’s meet and speak with the local authority that covers Borough market and put together an ask.” I did not receive a reply from the Mayor of London on that, but we did receive replies from the Mayor of Manchester and the Salisbury council leader. I am happy to sit down and see what we can do. We gave an extra £1 million to the NHS to deal with some of it, but in comparison, for the Manchester package—the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) was involved in that—we gave in response to a big long list of everything, from a marketing budget—to help that great city attract people back—to help with infrastructure and so on.

I am happy to meet the hon. Gentleman and his local authority and say, “Okay, come on—what is it you seek?” whether it be business rate relief or whatever. The Treasury will go mad at me for suggesting that. The point is, I have not received such a request, but I am happy to help stimulate it and will also work with the Mayor of London to do so.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:13 p.m.

The clause simply introduces schedule 3, which confers powers exercisable at ports and borders in connection with the questioning and detention of persons for the purpose of determining whether they are or have been engaged in hostile activity. It fulfils a mechanistic function; the new powers will be best discussed when we debate schedule 3.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 20 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3

Border security

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I beg to move amendment 44, in schedule 3, page 35, line 37, leave out “whether or not there are” and insert “where there are reasonable”.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:31 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. Again, it goes to the reason we have the no-suspicion stop. They are most likely to be trained, capable agents of a country, not amateurs, or they may be disguised using amateurs. Look at the history of the cold war. That is why we sometimes have to respond to more general intelligence specifics. Let us say we had intelligence that a hostile state was seeking to use a minor port, a west coast port or a private air strip. That is all we would have, but if the threat was significant enough we would then have to—and we do—deploy individual police and Border Force officers from each region to cover that. However, that is quite wide. It is not, “Ben Wallace is coming in on flight X, Y or Z”; perhaps it is our responding to a flight plan. It is sometimes that simple.

I have come from a Cobra meeting this morning where we have seen the consequences of some really hostile state activity, which has put two innocent British citizens, who are very seriously ill, in hospital. We are being taken advantage of as an open country. I am afraid that there is far too much intelligence officer activity, not always under diplomatic cover in this country, from some of our adversaries, and we have to make our border a bit harder for them. Diplomats will not be covered by that—we will still be obliged under the diplomatic conventions—but their families may be. It goes back to the question on suspicion. I might have a suspicion that X is doing it, and they are a diplomat, but they may say, “Well, I’m not carrying that in; I’m not risking myself, but I’ll get someone else in the wider party who doesn’t have diplomatic cover to do it.”

I am afraid that is why it is really important for us. It is why the last Labour Government thought it was important on the terrorism issue. The Law Society of England and Wales witness said in his evidence that he had no concern about the suspicion part of the powers. He had some concerns about legal privilege, and I listened with interest to that part of his submission. That is why I think it would set us back in our national security and counter-terrorism work if we lost the power to do that. I am afraid the Government will therefore resist the amendment, and I ask colleagues on both sides of the Committee to reflect on that, and hopefully the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation and exposition, and for the promise of the annual review under Lord Justice Fulford, which I think will be extremely useful. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:34 p.m.

I will be quite brief, because these amendments simply insert some further safeguards. They do not detract from the central aims of what the Government are seeking to do, but provide additional protections.

Amendment 37 relates to the power to stop, question and detain, which obviously we have been discussing in relation to my previous amendment. The amendment would simply allow the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to be informed when a person is stopped, and to make an annual report on the use of the power, which seems a perfectly reasonable request in the circumstances.

I will deal with amendment 35 in due course. Amendment 36 is simply about the commissioner being informed about the retention of property. The person who owned the article, or who was carrying or transporting it, will be notified by the examining officer when the commissioner is informed that it has been retained. These two amendments are not major interferences with the power, or with the aims of the Bill, but I suggest to the Minister that they are sensible safeguards.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:36 p.m.

As the hon. Gentleman has explained, the two amendments seek to enhance the oversight of the powers in schedule 3 by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. I entirely agree that we need effective oversight, but I hope to persuade him that the Bill already provides for that.

Amendment 37 would require that when a person is stopped and examined under schedule 3, the commissioner must be informed. It would also require the commissioner to make an annual report on the use of those powers. As to the duty to prepare an annual report, I refer the hon. Gentleman to part 6 of schedule 3, which already sets out the duty on the commissioner to keep under review the operation of the provisions in the schedule and to make an annual report to the Secretary of State about the outcome of that review.

The mechanism outlined in part 6 mirrors the well-established reporting apparatus of the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in relation to counter-terrorism powers. In his annual report, the independent reviewer reviews the operation of the equivalent port and border power in schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, and in doing so highlights any issues that have arisen through the exercise of those powers, provides a statistical breakdown of how they are used and makes recommendations for their future operation.

Amendment 36 would require that the examining officer informs the owner of an article that has been retained under paragraph 11(2)(d) or (e) of schedule 3 once the Investigatory Powers Commissioner has been notified of its retention. An examining officer may retain an article under paragraph 11 (2)(d) when

“the officer believes that it could be used in connection with the carrying out of a hostile act”,

or under paragraph 11(2)(e)

“for the purpose of preventing death or significant injury.”

Although I appreciate the amendment’s intent, it would place an unnecessary burden on the examining officer.

My officials are working with the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office to determine the precise mechanism for keeping the individual informed of the fate of their property, including the appeal process and notice of any decision made. That will be set out in greater detail in the schedule 3 code of practice that we aim to publish in draft this autumn. Let me reassure the Committee that no individual will be left guessing as to what has happened. I agree wholeheartedly that the process should be governed appropriately and transparently. Given that the issues are already addressed in the Bill, or will be in the code of practice, I invite the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:38 p.m.

I am grateful for those reassurances. I ask the Minister to comment on a further issue that relates to what I said previously. When the commissioner is carrying out the review process and producing the report that the Minister has referred to, will they be aware of every stop that has taken place?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:39 p.m.

Yes. As for the counter-terrorism stops that exist, the total numbers will be in the annual transparency report. Although the commissioner will not be informed every time someone is stopped, the numbers will all be recorded, and he will have the power, in the same way as the reviewer of terrorism legislation does, to investigate those stops while doing the review. It will not just be, “Are these the numbers? Have they complied?”

The reviewer of terrorism legislation can investigate intelligence agencies issues, police issues and the things that lay behind the stops, and that is what we expect them to do. That is why I want a judicial commissioner to do that for hostile states, so if we see it being abused or not being right, he will spot it—not us. He will spot where police officers are not being properly trained or are not doing it correctly, or if it is being overused with no results. I assure the hon. Gentleman that in that scenario the independent commissioners will not take it at face value.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:39 p.m.

I am grateful for those reassurances. In those circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:40 p.m.

I beg to move amendment 35, in schedule 3, page 40, line 27, at end insert—

“11A(1) This paragraph applies where—

(a) an examining officer intends to retain an article under paragraph (2); and

(b) the person who owns or was carrying or transporting the article alleges that the article contains confidential material.

(2) Where sub-paragraph (1) applies, the examining officer—

(a) may not examine the article; and

(b) must immediately provide the article to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner (the ‘Commissioner’).

(3) On receiving an article under sub-paragraph (2), the Commissioner must determine whether or not the article contains confidential material.

(4) Where the Commissioner determines the article contains confidential material, the Commissioner may authorise the examination and retention of material in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 12(5).

(5) Where the Commissioner determines the article does not contain confidential material, the Commissioner must return the article to the examining officer to determine whether the material should be retained under paragraph 11(2).”

The amendment relates purely to the protection of confidential material. I have based it squarely on what was said by the Master of the Rolls, one of our most senior judges, in the Miranda judgment, with which I am sure the Minister is familiar. The Court of Appeal judgment is dated 19 January 2016. The Master of the Rolls, who gave the leading judgment—this is from paragraph 119 of the judgment—said:

“But in disagreement with the Divisional Court, I would declare that the stop power conferred by para 2(1) of Schedule 7”—

to the Terrorism Act 2000—

“is incompatible with article 10 of the Convention”—

the European convention—

“in relation to journalistic material in that it is not subject to adequate safeguards against its arbitrary exercise and I would, therefore, allow the appeal in relation to that issue. It will be for Parliament to provide such protection. The most obvious safeguard would be some form of judicial or other independent and impartial scrutiny conducted in such a way as to protect the confidentiality in the material.”

It is important to protect the confidential material, as the Minister is aware. I have simply taken what one of our country’s most senior judges has said and tried to construct a protection that is in line with what he has asked Parliament to do. It would work through the oversight of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

The commissioner could determine whether an article contains confidential material and could then give powers in those circumstances where it can still be examined and retained, but there has to be that protection and that distinction given by the commissioner. Where there is a determination that the article does not contain confidential material, it could be returned to the examining officer. That is a sensible suggestion to deal with the lack of a safeguard that has been highlighted by one of our most senior judges.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:43 p.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for explaining his amendment. I want to start by reaffirming the Government’s strong conviction that confidential material should always be handled with the utmost care and consideration. We have sought to provide for that in schedule 3. The Bill provides that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner must be the one who authorises the retention and use of an article that consists of or includes confidential material, subject to meeting the requirements of paragraph 12(5). Beyond the point at which the examining officer comes to hold a reasonable belief that an article contains confidential material, the officer will not be able to examine that article until further authorisation has been granted by the commissioner.

However, it would be improper to impose a restriction on the examining officer such that they were unable to establish their own belief that the article does in fact consist of confidential material. The police have a statutory obligation to protect our citizens and prevent crime. They cannot be expected always to take at face value the word of someone they are examining, who in some cases will be motivated to lie. If an individual being examined claims that an article consists of confidential material, the examining officer should be within their rights to verify that if they feel that is appropriate. Having verified that the article does indeed consist of confidential material, the examining officer should stop the examination and, if they wish to retain the article, seek the commissioner’s authorisation to examine it.

The point about face value is important. Bona fide people will usually be able to identify themselves as bona fide lawyers or journalists pretty quickly. If someone turned up with no law degree or legal background and said, “I’m a lawyer, so you cannot look at my devices,” it would be fair for the officer not to be able to examine the whole documentation or device, but to seek to establish the fact before they then take the next step and go to the judicial commissioner with a request to examine the material. Until the request is granted, the judicial commissioner can say, “No, you can’t. You have to destroy it.” They can direct them.

The difference between me and the hon. Gentleman is the extent to which we want face value to be established before it goes to the judicial commissioner. I stress that under this schedule the examining officer can seek to retain that material only if they believe that the article could be used

“in connection with the carrying out of a hostile act”,

or if they believe that retaining the article could prevent “death or significant injury”. Although it is not in the Bill, I assure the hon. Gentleman that it will be in the code of practice that is provided for in part 4 of schedule 3. If the commissioner concludes that the article could not be used in connection with the carrying out of a hostile act, or could not cause death or significant injury, they will direct the article to be returned to the person from whom it was taken.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are working with the police and the Investigatory Powers Commissioner on how those provisions will be implemented in practice. The mechanics will be set out in the schedule 3 code of practice that we aim to publish in draft in the autumn. I hope that I have persuaded him that that is the right approach and he will accordingly be content to withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:46 p.m.

I am grateful that the Minister has set out the position regarding the proposed code of practice. If he would undertake to keep me updated on how discussions go leading up to that publication in the autumn, I would be very grateful and willing to withdraw the amendment.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:46 p.m.

To reassure the hon. Gentleman, it will be a statutory code, so it will go through the full process.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:46 p.m.

In that case, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:51 p.m.

I support the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North; I also want to speak to amendments 38 to 41, which I tabled. They follow the same general tenor as the hon. Gentleman’s amendments, in that they are practical suggestions for maintaining the right to access to a lawyer. Amendment 41 is about consultation via telephone.

I will not discuss the amendments in the next group now. They have far more to do with the right to consult a solicitor in private. None the less, that issue is also at the heart of the amendments in the group we are now considering. The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North has already referred to the evidence given by Max Hill, and I commend the evidence of Richard Atkinson, too. He chairs the criminal law committee of the Law Society, and I am sure that the Minister recalls a conversation with him on this very issue.

The Minister put the practical point to Mr Atkinson about whether access to a lawyer would be requested on every stop at the border. However, that is not what is at the heart of the amendments. The Minister asked Mr Atkinson whether he thought

“that when a Border Force person, a customs person, seeks to detain you for an hour or however long to examine and question you further, they, too, should have access to a lawyer”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Public Bill Committee, 26 June 2018; c. 29, Q66.]

That was about when the stage of being questioned was reached. The Minister mentioned a series of stages—whether it was a screening stop or another type of stop; but what I am talking about applies when questioning starts, when legal advice would be a necessity. We are not talking about the thousands of stops that are made. We are talking about particular circumstances that would be analogous to the position in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

I also commend Mr Atkinson’s evidence in terms of seeking practical solutions to deal with the Government’s concerns and still maintain our cherished right of legal professional privilege. As I have said, Ms Ryan, I will not talk about that in principle now, as I will do so on the next group of amendments. However, Mr Atkinson suggested several ways in which the balance could be maintained. He said the consultation could be delayed; if there were concerns about a particular lawyer, the services of a different one could be offered; and advice could still be given within the sight of examining officers without necessarily being given within their hearing.

I recognise the issue of immediate physical threat, as well. However, I urge the Minister to look at the matter practically, and not to sacrifice legal professional privilege but to take note of the practical solutions by which we could deal with concerns about individuals abusing the right to consult a lawyer by, for example, consulting someone who is not a lawyer or passing on information. I accept that there is a risk and I accept what the Government say, but we should turn our minds to finding a practical solution that maintains legal professional privilege.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:54 p.m.

I commend the spirit of the amendments tabled by the hon. Members for Paisley and Renfrewshire North and for Torfaen. It is important that as we strengthen our powers to tackle hostile state activity, we ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to govern the exercise of those powers. The amendments seek to ensure that if an individual has been detained under schedule 3 to the Bill, and schedules 7 and 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000, the examining officer must postpone questioning until the examinee has consulted a solicitor in private. The amendments, and those in the next group, would remove almost all restrictions on that right, which allow police officers to impose conditions on its exercise. The Government’s case against the amendments applies equally to those in the next group, so I ask for your indulgence, Ms Ryan, if I touch on the issues raised by amendments 24, 25 and 42. It may be that when we come to the next group, we will find that we have already covered much of the ground.

The powers under schedule 3 to this Bill and schedule 8 to the 2000 Act would afford any person who is formally detained the right to consult a solicitor privately, if they request to do so, subject to exceptional powers of delay, which I will explain further. I agree with Opposition Members that where an individual has been detained under those schedules and has requested to consult a solicitor, they should have the right to do so privately. In the vast majority of cases, there will be no reason to question that right. On rare occasions, there might be a need for the examining officer or a more senior police officer to impose certain restrictions.

I want to be clear that the restrictions in schedule 3 are not new or novel. Indeed, they are modelled on existing restrictions and conditions that are available now to police officers in schedule 8 to the 2000 Act and in the PACE codes governing the detention rights of those arrested under non-terrorist arrest powers. They are designed to be available only in specific and serious circumstances, namely where those detained seek to frustrate an examination, cause evidence to be interfered with or alert others who are in some way involved in an indictable offence.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:57 p.m.

If there were, just as there would be in a police station, a list of duty solicitors—or a list of approved lawyers where, if there were concerns, those lawyers could be removed from the list—why would there be a concern about an individual speaking to one of those lawyers in private, if that control were in place?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:57 p.m.

In the PACE codes, we already have that small ability to reflect that concern, if there is a concern. It can be done already in such a situation.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:58 p.m.

There can certainly be restrictions. There could be a restriction that an individual can consult a lawyer within sight of an examining officer—no issue with that. The issue is where the Bill goes further and provides that it must also be within the officer’s hearing. The justification given for that, as I understand it, is a worry that the individual will abuse that right and pass on information to someone, saying they have been picked up or whatever it might be. Why would that be a problem if there was an approved list of lawyers, which we were monitoring all the time, where we know that they are bona fide lawyers and there is not a concern?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 12:58 p.m.

I will address that issue later in my speech. I can inform the hon. Member for Torfaen that at the moment, if an individual is detained on a customs stop for an hour, they only have a right to a lawyer in that environment once they have been arrested, not while they are being detained. That is currently the practice.

In the vast majority of cases there will be no reason to question the right, but on rare occasions, there may be a need for the examining officer or a more senior police officer to impose certain restrictions. As I have already stated, these conditions are available now to police officers in schedule 8 to the 2000 Act and in the PACE codes. It is mainly about a situation where those detained seek to frustrate an examination or in some way alert others who might be themselves subject to an indictable offence. That might be where prior intelligence indicates that the individual might seek to obstruct an examination, either because they have a history of doing so or they have been trained to bypass, frustrate or subvert police examinations. The officer might also witness interactions between the individual and their solicitor, which alerts the officer to the possibility that they are conspiring to obstruct an examination or interfere with evidence.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

Clearly, the professional code of conduct that lawyers have would prevent them in engaging in any illegal activity, so that would be covered in any event. If there were, say, four or five approved lawyers who were completely regulated and we knew who they were, why would there be a risk of them passing information on to other people?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 1 p.m.

Let me proceed. When it comes to a person’s right to have access to a lawyer, no one currently prescribes in law that they may have only certain lawyers, except in Special Immigration Appeals Commission hearings. I would be interested in what the Law Society in Wales would say if we tried to set out that they could see only vetted lawyers.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 1 p.m.

Police stations have duty solicitor rotas, and that has been in existence for decades.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 1:01 p.m.

I understand that, but that does not restrict arrested people in a police station to choosing only from those lawyers. They can say, “I don’t want any of those five. I want the one I want.” I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point about a lawyer being trustworthy or effectively selected not specifically by the person detained but from an approved list. However, it would be difficult to go down the path of trying to approve people.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 1:01 p.m.

But that is already the case in Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 code H. Richard Atkinson said that

“where there is concern about an individual lawyer”—

let us take the example of a person who asks to ring someone we are not entirely sure about—

“there is provision for the suspect to have the consultation with that lawyer delayed but to be offered the services of another lawyer in the meantime.”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Public Bill Committee, 26 June 2018; c. 27, Q55.]

Why do we not take the equivalent of that to the border? We could offer the services of those on our duty list—problem solved.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 1:02 p.m.

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point. All such schemes, including his, restrict people’s right to a lawyer, one way or another. They either say, “I don’t trust your lawyer, so you can have my lawyer,” or—this is how the Government are doing it—“We have exceptional grounds, authorised by a chief officer, because we are suspicious of something”.

The hon. Gentleman makes a point about police stations, but many of these examinations are about establishing who, what, where and when. We should remember that in the port stops power, to balance the removal of some rights, these verbal discussions are not admissible in court as evidence, unlike in a police station, where everything said can be taken down in evidence and used. We give that protection, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) pointed out.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 1:05 p.m.

If I were to propose such a restriction on which lawyers could be consulted, I would find difficulty in the House of Lords. Let me proceed.

Accepting the amendments would in effect offer an opportunity to those engaged in activity of such severity to frustrate and obstruct an examination. Let me address the key point raised—the evidence we heard last week on restriction of the right to consult a solicitor in private. We must be clear that schedule 3 would allow use of the power only when an officer at least of the rank of commander or assistant chief constable has reasonable grounds for believing that allowing the examinee to exercise his or her right to consult a solicitor privately will have certain serious consequences.

The provisions are largely modelled on similar provisions in PACE: namely, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that private consultation will result in interference, injury to another person or hindering the recovery of property. Due to the potential severity of an act of terrorism, schedule 8 to the 2000 Act outlines additional consequences that might justify allowing the legal consultation to take place only within the sight and hearing of a qualified officer. Those include interference with information-gathering relating to an act of terrorism, alerting a person and making it more difficult to prevent an act of terrorism.

Schedule 3 to the Bill contains a similar consequence as a ground for allowing non-private legal consultations, namely the consequence of interference with information gathering about

“a person’s engagement in hostile activity.”

The need for the restriction is clear. It is there to disrupt and deter a detainee who seeks to use their right to a solicitor to pass on instructions to a third party. It already exists in legislation in schedule 8 to the 2000 Act, which the Bill seeks to replicate. In giving evidence to the Committee, the chair of the Law Society’s criminal law committee questioned why this restriction went beyond the equivalent provisions in PACE code H, which relate to a situation where an individual has been arrested on suspicion of a terrorism offence. PACE code H provides that:

“Authority to delay a detainee’s right to consult privately with a solicitor may be given only if the authorising officer has reasonable grounds to believe the solicitor the detainee wants to consult will, inadvertently or otherwise, pass on a message from the detainee or act in some other way which will have any of the consequences specified under paragraph 8 of Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000.”

Those consequences include harming others or tipping off terrorism suspects. In such circumstances,

“the detainee must be allowed to choose another solicitor.”

We have considered that carefully, but there are two main reasons why it is not feasible from an operational standpoint. First, in the circumstances described, where the police are concerned that an individual will use their solicitor to pass on instructions, allowing them access to a different solicitor in private will not prevent that possibility. The solicitor might be completely oblivious to the fact that their client is using them to pass on instructions to a third party. For instance, a detainee might ask the solicitor to contact someone and pass on a specific message, such as the fact that they are being detained and their location, with the solicitor unaware that the message will trigger some prearranged activity.

Secondly, inviting the detainee to choose another solicitor is not as straightforward at a UK port as it is at a police station. Unlike a detention under PACE, where there is time and access to a duty solicitor, it might take a substantial amount of time for an alternative solicitor to arrive at a UK port. To offer that option up front to the detainee, who is already presenting reasons to believe they are up to no good, provides another means for them to obstruct and frustrate the examination against a ticking detention clock.

Despite those reservations, I draw the Committee’s attention to two important safeguards that govern the exercise of such a direction. The first will ensure that a direction may be given only by an officer of the rank of assistant chief constable. The second will ensure that the officer present during the detainee’s legal consultation must not be connected with the detainee’s case. I reassure the Committee that the safeguards to the schedules have been carefully considered, following lessons learned through the exercise of the equivalent police powers, the work of the independent reviewers of terrorism legislation and our engagement with the public in respect of the existing powers for counter-terrorism purposes.

In relation to the amendments before us today, I stress that we should not hinder the ability of our law enforcement professionals to disrupt and deter those who present a threat to this country due to their involvement in terrorism or hostile state activity. Accordingly, I invite the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North to withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 1:08 p.m.

I do not propose to take this particular group of amendments to a vote at this stage, but I say to the Security Minister that the first of the two explanations given—that somehow solicitors bound by a code of conduct would be unwilling and unaware stooges passing on information to third parties—is not particularly credible. I do not think the distinction between a police station and a border security stop is particularly strong either, and I urge the Minister to look again at the practical steps around this. However, it is not my intention to push the amendments to a vote at this stage.

See more like "Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Fourth sitting)"

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Fourth sitting)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 03 July 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Read Full debate
Public Bill Committees
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 9:45 a.m.

Yes. That is the challenge for all policy makers: where legislation is too tied to the technology of the day, they end up becoming a prisoner of that legislation. Obviously, when the Act was written in 2000, or probably in 1999, it talked about a person who was guilty of an offence if he collected or made a record of information. No one thought in 2000 that, with 4G, and with 5G around the corner, people would not be downloading everything and that things would be done much more in a live stream.

That is the challenge for not only law enforcement, but other policy, whatever regulations we are doing. If someone is sitting in the Treasury, I should think that they are perplexed—I am not going to wander off my brief, because I will get into trouble—at how certain companies exploit old tax regulation to make huge profits, simply based on the fact that that regulation was written for an analogue and not a digital day. That is the same challenge we face in law enforcement.

In the spirit of what I have said from the very start of the Bill, and as I said when the Criminal Finances Act 2017 went through the House previously, I am determined that we collectively try to get to a place that will help our law enforcement and intelligence services and meet their need, but also reflect the very real concerns that have been raised.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 9:50 a.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer and for the constructive discussions he facilitated with me yesterday. It is important that we work constructively to get this clause absolutely right. I welcome the Minister’s approach in terms of not sticking to the three clicks approach—in fairness, he himself expressed reservations about it at an earlier stage—and in terms of the reasonable excuse defence, and I say that in respect of both the reverse burden, which is in the original Terrorism Act 2000 anyway, and of looking at whether we can put a non-exhaustive list of examples on the face of the Bill. All those things would be helpful in getting this clause into the right place. On that basis, I am happy not to press any of the amendments to a vote at this stage, and I look forward to what the Minister will bring forward on Report. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 4

Encouragement of terrorism and dissemination of terrorist publications

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 9:50 a.m.

Clause 4 updates the law on the encouragement of terrorism, to ensure that it properly protects children and other vulnerable people. It amends sections 1 and 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006, which provide for the offences of encouragement of terrorism and dissemination of terrorist publications respectively. A statement containing an encouragement of terrorism for the purpose of section 1 and a terrorist publication for the purpose of section 2 are defined as a statement or publication that is likely either to be understood by members of the public to whom the statement or publication is published or made available as a direct or indirect encouragement to acts of terrorism or to be useful in the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism.

Those who radicalise others and who incite violence and hatred often target the most vulnerable in our society, seeking to spread their poison as wide as possible and to cause the maximum harm. Reflecting that, the focus of the section 1 and 2 offences is on the actions of the radicaliser, rather than of the person being radicalised. Specifically, it is on the nature of the encouragement to terrorism and on the intention, or recklessness, of the person doing the encouraging or disseminating the terrorist publication—that their actions should directly or indirectly result in another person preparing or committing an act of terrorism.

Other offences will of course apply if a person being encouraged goes on to prepare or commit an act of terrorism as a result, but those sections are specifically targeted at the harm intended, risked or actually caused by the radicaliser. That was Parliament’s intention when it created those offences in 2006, and clause 4 closes a gap so as to give full effect to that intention.

At present, the wording of sections 1 and 2 means that those offences are committed only if a person being encouraged or being shown a terrorist publication is objectively likely to understand what they are being encouraged to do. That produces Parliament’s intended result in cases in which encouragements are published or terrorist publications are disseminated to the general public and, in most cases, to a particular individual who has been targeted for radicalisation.

However, it also produces an unintended gap in cases in which a child or vulnerable adult is targeted for radicalisation and may lack the maturity or the mental capacity to fully understand what they are being encouraged to do, even when, to an objective bystander, it would be clear what the radicaliser was seeking to achieve. In such cases, the radicaliser may be purposefully seeking to indoctrinate and groom a child or vulnerable adult to become involved in terrorism but could potentially evade liability for doing so, despite their best efforts and their worst intentions to cause serious harm, if they could establish that the current tests in sections 1 and 2 were not met, because their target did not fully understand what they were being encouraged to do.

We do not believe that any case has so far arisen in which this issue has prevented a prosecution, and thankfully we do not anticipate it being relevant in large numbers of cases in the future. However, we consider it important to take this opportunity to close that gap, which is well highlighted by the recent and horrifying case of Umar Haque, who was jailed for life after pleading guilty to disseminating terrorist publications to large numbers of children, whom he encouraged to carry out Daesh-inspired attacks, as well as being found guilty of a number of other serious offences, including plotting terror attacks.

I am not sure whether hon. Members are aware of the case, but Haque taught at unregulated schools in north London, exposing his views to, we think, hundreds of children, getting them to swear allegiance to ISIS, to re-enact attacks and to watch beheading videos, and then threatening that they would go to hell if they told their parents or other people. That is an example of the campaigns deliberately targeting the vulnerable and the young that some Daesh members get involved in.

We have seen in a number of lone wolf attacks—individual attackers, rather than complex plots—people with significant conditions who have been groomed or encouraged to do things. That is a very real example of why we have to be alert to the desperate measures that Isis involve themselves in. They are totally indiscriminate about who they encourage or who they wish to use to spread their hate.

I do not think that that is entirely on one side of the spectrum, and we could look at some examples of neo-Nazis and the far right: they, too, are casting their net wider and wider. Lonely, often damaged, young individuals sitting in their bedrooms are attracted to being part of some white, superior ideology. Again, that is why we are trying to close this gap.

This measure will help to ensure that the most vulnerable people are protected from radicalisation and prevented from engaging in terrorist activity. By extension, it will help to protect the wider public from acts of terror perpetrated by those who are vulnerable and who, as we have seen, may be exploited and manipulated by others for terrorist ends. I beg to move that clause 4 stands part of the Bill.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 9:57 a.m.

I can deal with the clause relatively briefly, because the Opposition support it. The way in which sections 1 and 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006 are drafted means that they do not capture some of the activity that we wish to criminalise. The drafting of the 2006 Act looks at the victim and at whether, objectively, they are likely to have understood. As the Minister set out, section 1(1) states:

“This section applies to a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published”.

That means that anyone who is a vulnerable adult or a child, or anyone who may, on that objective test, be unlikely to understand it, is not covered by the law as it stands. Clearly, that needs to be tightened up.

The second part of the clause, which refers to section 1(2) of the 2006 Act, substitutes the test of “a reasonable person” for the test that exists. That is an entirely sensible change. Taken together, the changes mean that when we look at dissemination of this material, we can consider vulnerable victims, whether they are adults or children, and not be stuck with the objective test, which means that they cannot be covered. On that basis, the Opposition support clause 4.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

We talked about safe spaces when considering clause 4. One of our biggest challenges, as it is for many of our European allies, is the number of foreign fighters and people who have gone abroad to fight. Some have been encouraged to do so and some of them have been conned into doing so. It breaks my heart to see 15-year-old girls effectively seduced to go off to throw their lives away in dangerous parts of the world. It might sound fun to run away from home, but I assure the Committee that when those girls see the horrors of Raqqa or Aleppo, it is no laughing matter —indeed, some of them have even lost their lives in doing so.

We have to do more to deal with offences that happen overseas, and with those who set themselves up in safe spaces, and reach back into the United Kingdom, destroy lives and encourage terrorism. We are not alone in that challenge. I met the German and French interior Ministers at a G7 event, and it is also a challenge for them. These things often happen a long way away, but can have a horrific impact on our streets and on families in this country. Some of the offences committed in this country have included killing people in places such as London Bridge and Borough market, and they were inspired by people who have sought sanctuary abroad, as they would see it. We must do more about that.

Clause 5 extends the jurisdiction of UK courts to cover further offences, so that we can bring to justice persons who commit acts of terrorism abroad. Section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2006 already provides extra- territorial jurisdiction for a number of terrorist offences. Extraterritorial jurisdiction means that a person may be prosecuted in the UK for conduct that took place outside the United Kingdom, but would have been unlawful had it taken place here. For the offences listed in section 17, it is not necessary for the individual to be a UK national or resident, and the offending need not be directly linked to the UK.

Through section 17 of the 2006 Act, and similar provisions in the Terrorism Act 2000, the UK already takes extraterritorial jurisdiction for most terrorism offences where that might be relevant. It means, for example, that the British courts are able to prosecute people who return to the UK having been involved in fighting with a terrorist organisation overseas, or been involved in a terrorist plot with a significant international dimension. That is an essential power for dealing with the threat posed by foreign fighters and to ensure that such people can be brought to justice. As I made clear on Second Reading, about 40 individuals who have returned from conflict in Syrian and Iraq have been convicted so far, many through the use of extraterritorial powers.

Clause 5 extends extraterritorial jurisdiction to three further offences, and widens the coverage of a fourth, with the result that all relevant terrorism offences will now be subject to extraterritorial jurisdiction. That will ensure that there are no gaps in our ability to prosecute individuals who engage in terrorist activities overseas that would be unlawful in this country if they returned to the UK.

Specifically we are extending extraterritorial jurisdiction to the following offences: section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000, under which it is an offence to display a flag or other article associated with a proscribed organisation; section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006, under which it is an offence to disseminate terrorist publications; and section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883, under which it is an offence to make or possess explosives under suspicious circumstances.

We are also extending the coverage of extraterritorial jurisdiction to section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006, under which it is an offence to encourage terrorism. That offence already has extraterritorial jurisdiction for where an act of terrorism is encouraged that would constitute a “convention offence”, meaning an offence listed in certain international agreements. Clause 5 would remove that limitation so that it would be unlawful to encourage any act of terrorism while overseas. That is a particularly relevant and timely change to our terrorism legislation.

International travel for purposes such as training, receiving direction from or fighting with a terrorist organisation has long been a feature of the terrorist threat faced by this country. In response, we have taken an incremental and proportionate approach to extending the territorial reach of our criminal law in those areas where there is a persuasive operational case for doing so. We recognise that extraterritorial jurisdiction is an exceptional power, but it is also essential to ensure that modern terrorists can be brought to justice.

Most recently we added to section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2006 the offences of preparing terrorist acts and training for terrorism—that was in 2015 in response to the then still developing threat from those who travelled to Iraq and Syria, in particular to join Daesh. Experience since then has shown a strong operational case for further extension of the extraterritorial jurisdiction provided by the clause. Some individuals located in Syria and Iraq have reached back to others in the UK and elsewhere, through social media and other online platforms. They have done so to spread propaganda, to disseminate terrorist publications, to promote Daesh and its aims, including through publishing flags and logos associated with organisations, and to encourage others to carry out terrorist attacks in the UK and other countries.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:17 a.m.

I rise to support the clause. The Minister has already set out that extraterritorial jurisdiction is nothing new under our law. It most certainly is not, and the effect of this clause is to extend that extraterritorial jurisdiction to new offences, including under section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2006, which is about uniforms and flags associated with proscribed organisations; section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883, which is the making or possessing of explosives in suspicious circumstances; the dissemination offence under section 2 of the 2006 Act, which we referred to in our debate on clause 4; and finally to section 1 of the 2006 Act on encouraging terrorism.

I would press the Minister to elaborate a little more on the point made by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in his evidence to the Committee, expressing concern about the way in which extraterritorial jurisdiction is applied to UK citizens on the one hand and non-UK citizens on the other. The Minister referred to the Attorney General’s permission being given in certain circumstances, where we have British nationals on the one hand and on the other we do not. While the Opposition wholly support the clause, it would assist if the Minister at least addressed the concern that the independent reviewer raised about the clause in that regard.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:27 a.m.

I will be quick, because this is definitely wandering off the clause. We wash millions of passenger name records at the National Border Targeting Centre, and if there are cancelled or stolen passports, they match. We are quite quick on that compared with our European allies, and we have a high detection rate, although it is not 100%. We have invested in that capability over the decades and I am confident that although we do not get them all, we do detect them. Obviously, we have to ensure that we continue to review that, and we are doing that as we speak.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6

Increase in maximum sentences

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:28 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 10, in clause 6, page 3, line 36, at end insert—

“(7) Sentencing guidelines for offences for which the maximum sentence has been increased under this section must be published within six months of the passing of this Act by the following bodies—

(a) in relation to England and Wales, the Sentencing Council for England and Wales;

(b) in relation to Scotland, the Scottish Sentencing Council; and

(c) in relation to Northern Ireland, the Lord Chief Justice’s Sentencing Group.”

This amendment would require the bodies responsible for sentencing guidelines to produce new guidelines in relation to offences for which the maximum sentence would be increased under Clause 6.

Clause 6 is the first of five clauses that facilitate the extended maximum sentencing periods with respect to the earlier clauses. I was uneasy about additional sentencing, given the state that clause 3 was in, but because of the Minister’s reassurances about the changes to that clause, I am less uneasy about it. Amendment 10 looks at the continuing role of the Sentencing Council. The council published its guidelines on this area in March, but they have not been updated to take into account the changes that are happening to offences as a result of clauses 1, 2 and 3, as I will set out.

In one of our earlier debates, the Minister said that it is of course always at the discretion of the judge to apply the law to the sentencing of an offender in an individual case and to take into account the circumstances, the background of the offender, the nature of the offence and so on. No parliamentarian would seek to interfere with that judicial discretion in particular cases, but the Sentencing Council’s guidelines fulfil a vital role when parliamentarians set maximum sentencing penalties, as the Bill does—it does not set minimum sentences.

All I wish to say to the Minister on this amendment is that, although we would not wish to stray into that judicial discretion, it might be sensible for the Sentencing Council to look at these offences in updated form, to see whether they wish to publish new guidelines. That would be sensible for everybody.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:30 a.m.

Let me start on a positive note: I fully endorse the sentiment behind the amendment of the hon. Member for Torfaen. It is right that the bodies responsible for providing sentencing guidelines in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can review and update any relevant guidelines in relation to terrorist offences to take account of the provisions in the Bill. As the Committee will be aware, the Sentencing Council for England and Wales published new guidelines for terrorism offences in March. Those came into force on 27 April. The new guidelines reflect the developing nature of the terrorist threat and the increasing concern about the availability of extremist material online, which can lead to people becoming self-radicalised.

The Sentencing Council has indicated that, in terms of the impact on sentencing levels,

“it is likely that in relation to some offences, such as the offences of preparing terrorist acts and building explosive devices, there will be increases in sentence for lower level offences. These are the kinds of situations where preparations might not be as well developed or an offender may be offering a small amount of assistance to others. The Council decided that, when considering these actions in the current climate, where a terrorist act could be planned in a very short time period, using readily available items such as vehicles as weapons, combined with online extremist material providing encouragement and inspiration, these lower-level offences are more serious than they have previously been perceived.”

That approach is very much to be welcomed, and I commend the Sentencing Council for its work on these guidelines.

I should also stress that the Sentencing Council, and its Scottish and Northern Ireland equivalents, are independent bodies. The Sentencing Council for England and Wales is governed by the statutory provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. The council has particular statutory duties, including a duty to consult on guidelines or amendments to guidelines. That consultation duty includes, for example, a requirement to consult with the Justice Committee. There are practical implications, therefore, with requiring the council to issue guidelines six months after Royal Assent, especially when the council cannot begin to consider guidelines until the Bill receives Royal Assent. However, the guidelines need to be kept up to date to reflect changes to the law, including those made by the Bill. I can assure the Committee that the council is alive to that; indeed, in its consultation on the draft terrorism offences guidelines, it was to some extent able to anticipate the increases to sentences contained in the Bill.

Clause 6 changes the maximum penalty for four offences. We are not rewriting the sentencing provisions for the entirety of terrorism offences, but seeking to update a specific set of offences to make sure that the maximum penalty reflects the severity of the offence. Consequently, we believe that the council will be able to modify the existing guidelines once the provisions to increase penalties in this Bill are enacted. We do not envisage that being a protracted process. As the Committee would expect, we have kept the Sentencing Council apprised of the provisions in the Bill, and the chairman has indicated that the council plans to revisit the guidelines once the Bill has completed its parliamentary passage.

The position in Scotland and Northern Ireland is different. In Scotland, I understand that the Scottish Sentencing Council has not issued any specific guidelines relating to terrorist or terrorism-related offences. There is a similar situation in Northern Ireland. Instead, the judiciary is guided by guideline judgments from the Court of Appeal. I would be happy to alert the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Department of Justice to this debate, but we should otherwise leave it to the Scottish Sentencing Council and the Lord Chief Justice’s sentencing group to determine how best to proceed. I am sure that is a sentiment that the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North would endorse.

I thank the hon. Member for Torfaen for tabling this amendment, and I fully understand his reasons for doing so. However, I hope I have been able to persuade him that the mechanisms are already in place for the relevant sentencing guidelines to be updated to reflect the provisions in the Bill. On that basis, I ask that he withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:32 a.m.

I am very grateful for those assurances. I welcome the assurance in respect of England and Wales, and the fact that the Sentencing Council is very much alive to this debate and prepared to make further recommendations. I also welcome what the Minister said with regard to Scotland and Northern Ireland. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 7 to 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 11

Additional requirements

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:34 a.m.

Clause 11 strengthens the notification requirements that apply to individuals convicted of terrorism offences or offences with a terrorist connection to enable the police to better manage the risk posed by such individuals. The notification requirements apply to an individual over the age of 16 who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more. Such terrorist offenders are required to notify the police of certain information, such as their name, address, date of birth and national insurance number, on release from custody, and to keep such information up to date. The notification requirements apply for up to 30 years, depending on the length of sentence imposed and the age of the offender. Those requirements provide the police and other operational partners with the necessary but proportionate means to monitor the whereabouts of convicted terrorists. They allow the police to assess the risk posed by a registered terrorist offender and, where appropriate, to take action to mitigate any risk posed by an individual.

The notification regime in the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 operates in much the same way as a similar notification regime for convicted sex offenders. However, the range of information that registered sex offenders must provide to the police was updated in 2012 and is now far more extensive than the information that terrorist offenders must provide. This clause seeks to bring the notification scheme in the 2008 Act more closely into line with that in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The changes in respect of registered terrorist offenders will strengthen the requirements and ensure that they provide the police with an even more effective risk-management tool.

The changes provided for in this clause are as follows. First, we are adding to the information that RTOs are required to notify to the police to include details of bank accounts and credit, debit or other payment cards; details of passports and other identification documents; phone numbers and email addresses used by the RTO; and details of vehicles that are owned by the offender or that they are able to use. The provision of information about vehicles does not apply to registered sex offenders, but it is considered necessary for intelligence purposes to help build a picture of the RTO’s activities and movements.

Secondly, we will require offenders with no fixed address to re-notify their information to the police on a weekly basis. That is to ensure that the risk posed by offenders can be monitored appropriately. Finally, although the point is dealt with in schedule 4 rather than the clause, the Bill requires RTOs to give the police seven days’ notice of any overseas travel, rather than, as now, only travel that lasts for more than three days. As now, RTOs will be required to keep that information up to date, so the existing duty to notify the police of any changes will apply. Failure to comply with the notification requirements is a criminal offence, punishable by up to five years in prison.

As I have indicated, the changes to the notification regime will enable the police to better manage the risk of re-offending by convicted terrorist offenders. Much of the additional information that RTOs will be required to notify to the police is already reflected in the sex offender notification regime, and it is high time to bring the 2008 Act scheme into line.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:38 a.m.

I rise to support the clause. The registered terrorist offender regime is nothing new and is already set out in the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008. As the Minister set out, the Bill makes a number of extensions to it, so as to include details of bank accounts, credit cards, passports, phone numbers, email addresses and vehicles.

The Minister was right to draw parallels with the convicted sex offender regime, which was updated in 2012. There is the distinction that vehicle details do not apply to registered sex offenders, but given that vehicles have been used as weapons in terrorist atrocities that we have seen, I do not think it unreasonable to include vehicle details in the clause. In addition, it is welcome that we have the seven days’ notice for overseas travel, rather than simply looking at the duration of overseas travel, which was the previous requirement. For all those reasons, the Opposition support the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 11 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Clause 12

Power to enter and search home

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:54 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes the fair point that it is all very well having lots of powers, but we must have the officers to deal with such matters. We have increased funding for counter-terrorism policing to ensure that we have as many such officers as possible. I am confident that the management of terrorist offenders is predominantly down to counter-terrorism officers. It would not be left up to a PCSO or a general beat constable. We have sufficient police officers to deal with this issue.

The power is as much an offender management tool as a criminal justice pursuit tool. It is about how we manage offenders effectively. That is why it is voluntary at first: we ask twice whether we can come and check up on someone, and only then do we resort to the law, which I think will happen rarely. There will probably be a reason when it happens, and that is when we will see a borough commander. People in the constabulary would move resources to address this.

I share the sentiment expressed by the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth that the police and other law enforcement authorities should exercise their powers sensitively. Many members of the Muslim community in my constituency live together as large families. It may be that one person is a terrorist offender but no one else is. We all have good and bad neighbours and family members, and we have to respect that.

I reassure the hon. Gentleman that the power to enter and search will be exercised under the powers of entry code of practice, which is issued under section 48 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The code states that officers entering properties where people are subject to the notification regime in part 4 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 must act reasonably and courteously to persons present and the property, and use reasonable force only where it is assessed to be necessary and proportionate to do so. We all know that that requirement is not always met, and we have to intercede with local police to ensure that our constituents’ concerns are addressed.

The amendment would therefore create a provision analogous to the code of practice by which the police already operate, in the context of their seeking twice to be granted entry voluntarily. One hopes that a good police officer would manage to get there without having to resort to the law.

I believe that the safeguards built into the clause are sufficient to ensure that the power will be used proportionately and only when it is absolutely needed by police officers. Introducing a requirement for police officers to have reasonable grounds for believing that an offence has been committed would restrict the use of the power to an unnecessary degree and undermine its primary purpose, which is to ensure that officers can assess the risk posed by a convicted registered terrorist offender at the address they have provided.

It is important to mention that we are dealing with people who have been convicted of an offence rather than those who are suspected of having committed one, so restricting the power of law enforcement forces would get the balance slightly wrong. These people are already offenders, so I believe that our police should have slightly wider powers in this respect.

I remind the Committee that Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said last week that the power of entry

“is something that allows us to assess the ongoing risk of their re-engaging with terrorism…You might find a flag being displayed. You might find material that is of use to a terrorist. That is the purpose of it.”—[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill Committee, 26 June 2018; c. 25, Q52.]

Given the clear operational need for the provision, I ask the hon. Member for Torfaen to withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:58 a.m.

I am grateful for that further elucidation from the Minister. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 13

Serious crime prevention orders

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 10:59 a.m.

Clause 13 will make it clear in the Serious Crime Act 2007 that a serious crime prevention order may be made in respect of terrorism offences. SCPOs, which were introduced by the 2007 Act, are court orders that are used to protect the public by preventing, restricting or disrupting a person’s involvement in serious crime. They may impose various measures on an individual, proportionate to the risk of that person re-engaging in serious criminal activity.

Such an order may be made by a Crown court—or, in Scotland, by the High Court of Justiciary or a sheriff—in respect of an individual who is convicted of a serious crime, in which case the order would come into effect once its subject was released from custody. Additionally, such orders may be made by the High Court—or, in Scotland, by the Court of Session or a sheriff—where the Court is satisfied that a person has been involved in a serious crime, and where it has reasonable grounds to believe that the order would protect the public by preventing or disrupting the person’s involvement in serious crime.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 11:02 a.m.

I rise to support clause 13. It is self-evident that terrorism is a serious offence, and the SCPO regime, which has been in place since the 2007 Act, can be an important tool in dealing with terror offences.

As the Minister has set out, the SCPO will come into effect when an offender is released from custody with the purpose of preventing or disrupting their involvement in serious crime. Restrictions on travel and access to property or telephones can be part of that. The regime has worked in relation to other serious offences, and it is sensible to extend to it to terrorism.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 13 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 14

Traffic regulation

See more like "Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Fifth sitting)"

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Fifth sitting)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 03 July 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:02 p.m.

I beg to move a manuscript amendment, in paragraph (1), sub-paragraph (d) of the order of the Committee of 26 June, leave out “and 2.00 pm”.

It is a delight to serve under your chairmanship this afternoon, Mrs Main. Following discussions through the usual channels, it was proposed not to sit on Thursday afternoon. Accordingly, I have moved a motion to amend the programme resolution.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 14

Traffic regulation

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:02 p.m.

I beg to move amendment 30, in clause 14, page 16, line 33, leave out from “authorise” to “to” in line 34, and insert “another constable”.

It is a pleasure to serve under you as Chair this afternoon, Mrs Main. I rise in unusual circumstances, because the Minister responded to parts of the amendment this morning, so I can anticipate some of the response. The amendment relates to proposed new subsection (5)(d) in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, in subsection (9)(c), which is the part of the clause that will empower a constable in connection with anti-terrorism regulation orders, or ATTROs. I am moving the amendment simply to draw some clarity from the Minister.

The explanatory note states that

“it might be left to a security guard or steward to determine when a provision of an ATTRO is to commence or cease operating on a given day”.

I can see the common sense in that. For example, where a particular restriction has a set number of hours and everyone has gone, it would be in everyone’s interest to have somebody on the ground who can say, perhaps an hour before the specified time, that the restriction is being brought to an end. What might be more problematic, however, is situations arising all over the country—for example, where a security firm or otherwise has taken on responsibility for particular things—where broad, strategic decisions are taken out of the police’s hands and put into the hands of different bodies that may be applying them inconsistently.

Will the Minister set out the balance? There is nothing wrong with making common-sense decisions on the ground in a limited way, and if that is what is envisaged, as it seems to be from the explanatory notes, I would be satisfied by that explanation. What I would be less in favour of is a lot of inconsistency around the country or for common-sense decisions on the ground to perhaps interfere with the overall strategy for these events, which I would expect to be in the hands of the police.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:06 p.m.

I hear the hon. Gentleman’s concerns. The key part of this provision, reflecting my earlier answers, is that it hands the constable the right to exercise his or her discretion about when to effectively delegate or allow the power to be used. I would trust the judgment of the police commanders I know—for example, Neil Basu, the counter-terrorism lead—to make that call in those situations. It is important to recognise that we do not want highly trained police officers with powers to be inappropriately used for something that a security guard, a steward or somebody else could do, which would be a better use of their time. I trust their discretion and think that the constable will get it right.

Most such events are properly planned. Where there has been an ATTRO, it will predominantly be because of a specific threat, or certainly enough threat to warrant it, which will clearly indicate a significant amount of deliberate planning, such that the local authority and, for example, the sporting event will be fully played into. I am therefore happy that that is where we are and we can allow those police officers to be used better.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that, all the way through, this is as much about the discretion of chief officers and local authorities in being able to police events properly, with the health warning that this is not to be used as a charging mechanism. It is thought that on average an ATTRO will cost between about £3,500 and £10,000, with approximately 90% of the cost usually going on ATTRO advertising. I do not think that is a significant impact. In fact, where an ATTRO is needed, the cost will sometimes fall on the Crown. I suspect that, for the Commonwealth summit at Lancaster House for example, the required costs will effectively mean Government paying Government.

I do not think we should remove the ability of a constable to delegate where they need to. That is the best way to get the correct policing and the right resources to the right event and also, perhaps, to limit the cost impact on some of these events. I would not want them to be unduly restricted. That is the thinking behind this part of the legislation, and I urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:08 p.m.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 16

Detention of terrorist suspects: hospital treatment

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:10 p.m.

I want to speak to clause 16 because I am conscious that, even if no amendments are tabled, some parts of the Bill are important and the concerns that we heard in evidence should be reflected. Even if hon. Members on both sides of the Committee agree with the provision, it is important that those on the outside can hear some of our justification.

The clause amends the Terrorism Act 2000 to exclude time spent in, and travelling to and from, hospital from the calculation of the time a suspect spends in pre-charge detention. General criminal law has long recognised that it is appropriate to pause the detention clock so that the time an individual spends in pre-charge detention does not include any time they are receiving hospital treatment or travelling to or from hospital, in the relatively rare cases where a detainee needs hospital treatment.

At present, the calculation of the maximum period of pre-charge detention for an individual arrested under the 2000 Act makes no allowance for any time spent by the suspect receiving hospital treatment. Consequently, if a suspect were to be injured or fall ill in custody, the amount of time available to the police to interview the suspect would be reduced. That could impair the police investigation and prevent a proper decision from being reached on whether to charge the individual before they must be released. They could therefore evade justice and the public could be put at risk.

The change will ensure that the police can use the full amount of time permitted to them under the law to question a suspect, investigate the suspected offence, and work with the Crown Prosecution Service to reach a charging decision. Terrorist investigations are often exceedingly complex and can involve a high level of risk to the public. As such, it is important that the police are able to investigate fully and get such decisions right.

The change will also apply to the calculation of the maximum time for which an individual may be detained for the purpose of examination under schedule 7 to the 2000 Act, which stands at six hours including the initial hour during which a person may be examined without being detained. That will give effect to a recommendation made by the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, QC, and will bring the provisions of the 2000 Act in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2

Retention of biometric data for counter-terrorism purposes etc

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:19 p.m.

The amendment goes to the very heart of the framework of counter-terrorism—the balance that is to be struck between liberty and security. I respect the arguments on both sides. Assistant Commissioner Basu referred to how data obtained from a port stop had been useful in identifying someone who would go on to engage in an act of terrorism. He was absolutely clear that that kind of data could be useful in the fight against terror. However, that has to be balanced against the concerns.

There are concerns, first, about whether the data that is held can be kept secure and, secondly, about two particular classes of people, if I can put it that way. The first class is the person who is arrested because of a mistake, whether that be mistaken identity or a mistake in place or in any other material fact. The second class is the person who has been arrested and never charged. How we strike that balance and protect those people is vital.

Although I have sympathy with the means by which the hon. Gentleman has sought to achieve that balance—essentially by keeping the period of retention at two years rather than extending it to five—the amendment is something of a blunt instrument. You would quite rightly stop me, Mrs Main, if I started to refer to the next amendment that is tabled in my name, but none the less I think that that amendment is a better means of achieving and striking the balance. It would protect the two types of people I have referred to and give them a right to appeal. This amendment is a blunt instrument for achieving the same aim.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:24 p.m.

The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North referred to an example. I said at the time of hearing the evidence that it was remarkable that, as the witness was speaking, a verdict was returned in a trial of an individual who was arrested on Whitehall with three knives on him. It is our strong belief that he had been planning to carry out an attack and was en route to do so. The evidence that was used to help to convict that individual was based on biometrics taken from a number of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan four or five years ago. In fact, he subsequently admitted that he had taken part in the manufacture of 300 IEDs in Afghanistan.

Those biometrics were taken from a schedule 7 stop and retained, and the consequence was that he was convicted. If we had not been able to hold some of those biometric data for longer than two or maybe three years, I am not sure that that individual would have been convicted last week. We should reflect on the fact that not only was that individual seriously dangerous, he was probably on his way to attack people around this building, Downing Street and Whitehall, right in the heart of our democracy and what we hold so dear.

Like it or not, DNA is a successful part of the process. It is often what we need to convict people. Terrorist offences are often highly complex—there are huge amounts of encryption. The ability for us to use communications alone to prosecute people is getting harder and harder. Forensics are very often the key, and DNA forensics are incredibly important.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:31 p.m.

I will try not to.

I will put the case for amendment 33, as I started to do in the last series of amendments. The amendment squarely aims at striking an appropriate balance between liberty and security. Two circumstances are highlighted. The first is when there has been a mistake, which can happen, such as a mistake involving identity, place or any material fact—or in the intelligence, which can also happen, as the security Minister would accept. The second circumstance is when a person has been arrested but not charged for the offence. My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton referred to the impact on the BAME community, which fits precisely into that category—people who do not end up being charged with an offence.

The amendment states that an application can be made to the commissioner for the destruction of data when the conditions are met. On receiving the appeal, the commissioner must seek representations from the chief officer of police in the area from which the biometrics data was taken as to whether it should be destroyed or not. Even if there is an appeal by an individual to the commissioner, that additional sub-paragraph means that the chief officer of police can make representations, which seems to strike a balance between the two. The individual person has the right, but if there are background concerns, the chief officer of police can make those representations.

There would also be a period of three months in which to determine the appeal, which is a reasonable period for collecting the necessary data from the chief officer of police and for consideration. Of course, there will be circumstances in which appeals will be turned down on that basis, but none the less it provides a framework. If people’s data is being retained in circumstances where a mistake has been made or when they have not ultimately been convicted of an offence, they can appeal to have it taken away, but that safeguard of representations from the chief officer of police remains. In those circumstances, I commend the amendment as a reasonable way through what I accept is a difficult problem.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 2:35 p.m.

The amendment provides for a person whose fingerprints and DNA profiles are retained under a power amended by schedule 2 to apply to the Biometrics Commissioner for the data to be deleted, if the commissioner has not previously authorised its retention. The grounds on which data might be deleted are if the individual was arrested or charged as a result of a mistake, for example mistaken identity, or if they were arrested but not subsequently charged.

In so far as the amendment relates to cases of mistaken identity, I am happy to inform the hon. Member for Torfaen that existing legislation already directly addresses this issue, and in fact provides a stronger safeguard than he is proposing. Section 63D(2) of PACE states that biometric data must be deleted by the police without the individual needing to appeal if it was taken where

“the arrest was unlawful or based on mistaken identity.”

This aspect of his amendment is therefore unnecessary, although I wholly support the principle behind it.

In so far as the amendment relates to cases where the individual was arrested lawfully and no mistakes were made but they were not subsequently charged, similar ground was covered by previous amendments. One of these amendments would have removed from the Bill—in its entirety—measures providing for an automatic retention period following arrest under PACE on suspicion of terrorist offences. I have already set out why those measures are appropriate and necessary, and I am pleased that the Committee did not pursue those earlier amendments. For a similar reason, I cannot support this amendment.

I have already said that the Bill does not depart from the principle established by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 in that the biometric data of a person who has been arrested but not charged should no longer be retained indefinitely in most cases, as it used to be. In passing that legislation in 2012, Parliament rightly recognised that it is appropriate and in the public interest for biometric data to be retained for limited periods in certain circumstances in the absence of conviction. One such circumstance is where a person is arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of being a terrorist but is not subsequently charged. Under current law, there is an automatic three-year retention period. Anything beyond this requires a national security determination to be made by the chief officer of police and approved by the Biometrics Commissioner. Schedule 2 makes equivalent provision for a case where the same person is arrested on suspicion of the same terrorist activity but under the general power of arrest in PACE. The flexibility to use either power of arrest—TACT or PACE—is open to the police and is a decision that will be taken based on operational considerations. It is a current gap that the same biometrics retention rules do not follow the two powers of arrest in terrorism cases despite the fact that there may otherwise be no material difference between the two cases. Schedule 2 attempts to close that gap.

I fully support the well-established principle that biometric data should be automatically deleted following a mistaken or unlawful arrest, but I cannot agree that we should overturn the equally well-established principle that there should be a limited period of automatic retention following a lawful and correct arrest on suspicion of terrorism. There are many reasons why a charge may ultimately not be brought in such circumstances. The individual might have been quite reasonably suspected and there might be extensive intelligence to indicate that they pose a very real threat, but if it is not possible to produce that intelligence in an open court, for example, or if it comes from intercept or from sensitive sources which we cannot put at risk then it cannot be used to support a prosecution.

Although the person will therefore be quite rightly treated as innocent as a matter of law, that does not mean that the police can simply wash their hands of them and take no further action to protect the public. It is right that there should be a limited, automatic period during which their fingerprints and DNA profile can be retained so that the police can identify their involvement in any further suspected terrorist activity. If there is no information to suggest that they pose a threat at the end of this limited period, then it will be neither necessary nor proportionate to seek a national security determination to authorise its ongoing retention, and the data will have to be deleted. This approach strikes the right balance. Although I appreciate the spirit of the hon. Gentleman’s amendment, it would shift that balance and raise a number of difficulties.

Given the limited automatic retention period in question and the need for both a chief officer of police and the Biometrics Commissioner to approve any further retention, it is not necessary to introduce an additional review of the case in advance of the one that would occur at three years. Existing safeguards ensure the proportionality. The Biometrics Commissioner has not raised a concern about them in the case of TACT arrests and they have not been found to infringe disproportionately on the rights of suspects. To add an additional review would place an unnecessary and disproportionate burden on both the police and the Biometrics Commissioner. A more fundamental issue is that it would be difficult to have a meaningful and transparent application process in which the reasons for decisions could be provided to applicants. The hon. Gentleman’s amendment does not specify the criteria by which the Biometrics Commissioner might consider an application from a terror suspect, but presumably it would be the same as the test for retaining the data under a national security determination: that it is necessary and proportionate to do so. The Biometrics Commissioner and his staff have the necessary security clearance to make such a consideration on the basis of all relevant information, including sensitive intelligence.

In cases of the kind I have alluded to, where intelligence clearly suggests that a person poses a risk but it cannot be adduced in open court to support a prosecution, that would prevent the individual from being informed of the reasons for any decision to reject their application. It would also prevent any judicial review of the rejection of their application from being heard in open court. To do so could compromise sensitive sources of information and could reveal the extent of intelligence coverage of the individual. The simple fact of a decision to retain or delete the data could reveal the existence or absence of a hitherto covert investigation into them, and could indicate the level of the police’s interest in their activities. Such information could clearly be valuable to an active terrorist, as it could allow them to disguise their activities and avoid intelligence coverage, or it could provide assurance that the authorities are not aware of their activities. That would simply not be in the public interest and would strike the wrong balance. It would make such an application scheme very difficult to operate in practice. For those reasons, I hope the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I have three points to make in response. First, although I take on board the point about section 63 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, having a personal right to appeal in the Bill is an important principle.

Secondly, on the balance between keeping intelligence confidential and revealing enough for there to be a meaningful process, that is covered by the chief officer of police being consulted and making representations. The balance between what can be said on paper and what cannot occurs right across the spectrum of terrorism offences.

Thirdly, the test that the commissioner would apply would obviously be the necessary and proportionate retention of data, which is very common. On that basis, I wish to press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 3:33 p.m.

My rebuttal to that would be: what is the gain? What would the reviewer do? Yes, we can be more accurate; we can reduce from 7,000 referrals to fewer, but what is interesting is that in the two years of the published figures we see exactly that. Prevent is evolving; we are seeing better reporting and we are seeing the sections of society that are and are not reporting. We see exactly the same proportions that we see in wider safeguarding referrals. In Prevent, 30% of the 7,000 need other safeguarding. They do not need to go to Prevent for terrorism purposes, but they go into other safeguarding for domestic abuse or something else. That is exactly the same percentage as we see in the wider safeguarding. If Prevent is the entrance to getting my children better safeguarding, I am happy with that. If somebody is taking an interest in behaviour or actions being inflicted on a child or vulnerable person, I do not mind whether the person who spots it is a Prevent officer or a safeguarding officer; we just want it to be dealt with.

The hon. Gentleman is right that these figures allude to Prevent’s accuracy, but they also allude to its success, in my book. That is the first start point. A review that is frozen in time is not necessary when Prevent is starting to have real success. The Government think that people realise that it is for all of us and not just for the Muslim community. It is for all of us.

I will finish the point about the review by saying that I spoke recently to the headmaster of a pupil referral unit in one of the toughest parts of Lancashire. He had a 15-year-old boy who was referred for neo-Nazi, far-right extremism. The Prevent team came in and the boy is now in mainstream further education college, with a multi-ethnic group of friends, doing his higher-level qualifications. If hon. Members know anything about pupil referral units, they will know that very rarely do 15-year-olds move out of them. The headmaster said to me, “Give me Prevent every time; I wish I had it for the broader spectrum of troubled people.”

I am afraid I cannot agree with the Opposition that we need a review. I am happy to engage, to sell the policy more and to correct the perceptions, but I think a statutory review in the primary legislation is unnecessary.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I have three brief points. First, the Minister talked about myths. An independent review would assist in debunking those myths. Secondly, that a policy is evolving is not an argument against a review—otherwise, hardly any Government policies could actually be reviewed. Thirdly, the Minister said that the policy is being internally reviewed in any event. Why not give those reviews independent status and the weight that would come from that? I will press my amendment to a vote.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 3:37 p.m.

You will be pleased to hear that this relates to a very narrow point, Mrs Main. The change made by the Bill to how the current programme relates to local authorities is very narrow: it will give them the ability to refer directly to the Channel programme without the necessity of going through the police. That is one of a number of measures simultaneously going on regarding local councils.

Without going off-point, I should briefly mention that data will be shared with local authorities, which is something that was separately announced by the Government. It is in that context that I put the amendment forward. I just want to raise a number of concerns, and I hope the Minister will be able to offer some reassurance.

The first regards the whole idea of data security for local authorities. I appreciate that, through safeguarding, local authorities already possess sensitive data—on childcare cases and matters like that, for example— but this is clearly data of a different category, and keeping it secure will be important on a number of levels. Secondly, will local authorities be appropriately trained to deal with this data when it is passed on to them?

My third point, which goes to the heart of my amendment, regards resources. I appreciate that the Minister does not yet run the Treasury and so is not in a position to simply hand out money, as it were—it is only a matter of time, I am sure. However, related to the whole debate on Prevent and the wider aspect of community cohesion is that there is no doubt that cuts to local councils have meant that childcare services and youth services have been substantially reduced. If we are to expect local authorities to do more on our counter-terror agenda, I suggest that they should have the resources to do so. It is on those points that I seek reassurance from the Minister.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 3:39 p.m.

The amendment would require the Home Secretary to review whether local authorities have sufficient resource and expertise to carry out their duties relating to Prevent. In responding, I will say a little about the work of the Channel programme, on which the Home Office works closely with local authorities to support individuals vulnerable to terrorism, before turning to local authorities’ wider work in carrying out the Prevent duty.

A Channel panel is chaired by the local authority and works with multi-agency partners collectively to assess the risk of an individual being drawn into terrorism and to decide whether an intervention is necessary. The police are a key partner in this process and currently provide dedicated resources to administer and manage it.

If a Channel intervention is required, the panel works with local partners to develop an appropriate, tailored support package. Any specialist ideological interventions are directly funded by the Home Office and have no resource implications for the local authority. The support package is monitored closely and reviewed regularly by the Channel panel. The current arrangements are that the work of Channel panels is resourced from existing local authority budgets, which is in line with other safeguarding programmes.

Project Dovetail is a pilot currently under way through which the Home Office directly funds posts that support the Channel panel process within local authorities and removes some of the case management functions from the police. This frees the police to concentrate on issues where their unique skills, powers and expertise are best used and brings Channel into greater alignment with other safeguarding processes in local authorities. As the Home Office is directly funding the additional posts, that should come at no additional cost to local authorities. The resource requirements will be carefully monitored to ensure they are adequate before rolling out the project any further.

This pilot has been key to identifying the need to make the change provided for in clause 18 and enable local authorities, as well as the police, to make the formal referral of an individual to a Channel panel once the initial assessment phase has concluded that there are genuine vulnerabilities the panel needs to discuss.

Prevent is implemented in a proportionate manner that takes into account the level of risk in any given area or institution. We recognise the fundamental importance of working in partnership with a range of partners, including local authorities, to reduce the risk of radicalisation in communities and to support vulnerable individuals. That is why we supported 181 community-based projects in 2017-18, reaching over 88,000 participants.

We have supported the roll-out of the Prevent duty—set out in section 29 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015—with guidance for each sector and a dedicated package of training for frontline staff in the NHS, universities and schools, and local authorities. Since 2011, Prevent training has been completed more than 1.1 million times. The delivery of Prevent is led locally and driven by analysis of the threat in communities. Local authorities are among the most vital partners in our network. The Prevent duty requires local authorities to establish or make use of existing multi-agency groups to assess the local picture, co-ordinate activity and put in place arrangements to monitor the impact of safeguarding work.

In priority areas, where the risk of radicalisation is assessed as being the highest, Prevent co-ordinators employed by local authorities—again, funded by the Home Office—build partnerships in communities, oversee the delivery of local action plans to respond to the risk of radicalisation, and work with partners to embed safeguarding activity in statutory services, including social care, health and education.

The threat from terrorism is shifting, and there are increasing concerns about the far right. We have seen local authorities rise to the challenge in order to tackle this threat. As I set out in response to the previous amendment, over 500 individuals have received Channel support since April 2015—that is 500 fewer potential people of danger on our streets. To my mind, that demonstrates the success local authorities have had in delivering Prevent and Channel—we should remember that local authorities chair the Channel panel, not the police—and shows they have the resources and training to deliver this effectively.

I thank the hon. Member for Torfaen for his amendment. I share his concern for protecting people who are vulnerable to terrorism and at risk of being drawn into violent and divisive ideology. I trust that I have been able to show that, as it stands, local authorities are able to fulfil this vital safeguarding role effectively with funding provided by the Home Office and that we keep the provision of that funding under close scrutiny to ensure that it is adequate to the task. Given that, I ask him to withdraw his amendment.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 3:44 p.m.

While I appreciate the Minister’s reassurances, we will continue to hold the Government to account in other arenas on resourcing local authorities. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Third sitting)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Thursday 28 June 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 11:58 a.m.

I will get to that. These amendments would prevent clause 1 from having effect. If the reckless element were removed from the proposed new offence and replaced with a mens rea requirement, it would have to be proven that the person invited it. If that can be proven, it would be the existing offence. It is unnecessary and it would narrow back to the original, existing statute, rather than broaden to deal with recklessness where the person is using themselves to incite or inspire.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 11:58 a.m.

I am not sure that is quite it, but let us use that second example. There is the original offence of invitation of support and the new offence, which talks about expression of opinion. At the moment, recklessness is attached to that, but intention could be attached to it. It would not be as broad, but it would be broader than the existing offence.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 11:59 a.m.

That is my point: it will narrow it from what we are proposing. It would pretty much mirror the existing offence. One of the alternatives in the amendments would add recklessness to the existing offence, if I am not mistaken, but the existing offence is that the person has invited support, so whether or not they are reckless does not really matter, because they are guilty of an offence.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

The overall point is correct: the two amendments taken as alternatives certainly would not broaden the first offence to the extent that the new clause does, but they would both broaden it. At the moment, the first offence is intentional, so you can add recklessness to it, or you can put intention on the first part of the new offence. In both cases you would broaden it, but you certainly would not have the impact of going back to the original one; you just would not broaden it to the extent that the full clause 1 does.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 11:15 a.m.

The point is that both your amendments would require us to prove intent. You are saying, “If you add it to the old offence, you have to prove intent, because the old offence as it stands includes intent.” If you add intent to the new offence, you are effectively mirroring the existing one. Clause 1 is about trying to deal with a gap where you find yourself unable to prove direct intent but—I go back to the idea of the baseball bat—know that someone is recklessly inspiring people to join or follow a proscribed organisation.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 11:15 a.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for being so generous in giving way. If you add recklessness to the offence as it is, you broaden it. Similarly, if you broaden it out to expressions of opinion and you add intention, that also broadens it. What it does not do is broaden it to the extent that the new clause as a totality does. That is the point.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 12:02 p.m.

Not that we are saying the Chair is not inspirational. [Interruption.]

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 11:15 a.m.

I am backed up from nowhere by Lord Diplock. The hon. Member for Torfaen makes valid points, but the issue here is what Lord Diplock said in the case of Sweet v. Parsley—you could not make that name up, could you? He did not say it to me, but nevertheless it came to me. He said that it is

“difficult to see how an invitation could be inadvertent.”

The point is that, if the hon. Gentleman is saying that by adding “reckless” we inadvertently go to intent, we must get that challenge right. We are trying to plug the fact that at the moment, unless we can prove intent, we find it very hard to deal with that aspiration.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

With the greatest respect to Lord Diplock, subjective recklessness is not necessarily inadvertent. That is the whole point. However, it is not my intention to press the matter today and I would be very happy to enter into further discussions with the Minister on that point.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 11:15 a.m.

Lord Diplock has thrown me off my stride, or more likely it was Sweet v. Parsley that threw me off my stride, as it is lunchtime. Our contention is that, if we accept the amendment, there would be no point to clause 1, and that the new section 12(1A) offence would simply mirror the effect of the existing section.

Similarly, the addition of a recklessness test to the existing offence of inviting support at section 12(1) would not address the difficulty. The requirement to prove that an invitation—that is, a deliberate encouragement—had been made would not be removed, and would still need to be met in a case in order to make out the offence. Again, therefore, the current gap would remain. Recognising what the hon. Gentleman has said, I invite him to withdraw the amendment and support clause 1. However, in light of his comments I would be happy to meet him to discuss it.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 12:04 p.m.

I am grateful for that final point, and on the basis that the Minister is happy to meet me to discuss the matter, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Yes, because the key is “in such a way”. Someone does not have to fly a swastika. The hon. Gentleman may have seen that some of the far right used to fly a red flag with a white circle but no swastika in it. Someone on an al-Quds parade might think that they can alter the Hezbollah flag and somehow pretend it is not to do with the military side, but that will not save them if they are using it in such a way as to commit that offence. Someone does not have to use the full wording, but we, the prosecuting authorities, have to prove that they are doing it in such a way as to incite or commit that offence. I warn those clever terrorists out there who think they can get away with it by swapping a few letters around that that will not make a difference.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
28 Jun 2018, 12:25 p.m.

I am grateful for the Minister’s response and the additional reassurance he has given about “in such a way” or “in such circumstances”. On this occasion, he is right to say that the Bill uses the same wording as the Terrorism Act 2000, which has a solid body of interpretation from the courts behind it. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Paul Maynard.)

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Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Second sitting)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 26 June 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

Thank you for coming along, Mr Clancy. I appreciate your evidence about terrorism legislation being reserved to the UK and about the memorandum of understanding between the Attorney General and the Lord Advocate and so on. However, moving beyond that, do you have any concerns about clause 3 of the Bill that you have not already referred to?

Michael Clancy: I think we were generally in favour of the idea that this area should be updated to take account of the digital revolution. The fact that the review of terrorism legislation that the Government precipitated last year has resulted in no further offences, as Max Hill described, is a vindication of the extent to which the law captures most of the issues. However, there are always questions that can be asked—some of which you have already heard about—about the balance between the right of expression and the requirements under the Bill.

It is fair to say that the courts have been quite explicit about where they fall on that balance. The right to freedom of expression under ECHR article 10 is not an absolute right; it has to be balanced with the other rights that the rest of us enjoy, such as the right to life, and so on. Therefore, although others may not subscribe to this view, the case has to be made that the provisions in the Bill will upset those rights to the extent that we would be considerably concerned about them, given that they build on existing provisions that have already been tested in the courts.

In that context, we have to look at all the legislation we have got—several Acts relate to counter-terrorism—and construct some sort of codification or consolidation of it. I do not know about you, ladies and gentlemen, but flitting between three or four Acts of Parliament within the compass of one Bill is difficult enough. It is difficult to imagine that those who will be subject to the legislation will do that kind of thing. We should make the law as simple and easily understood as we can.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 2:54 p.m.

Q Thank you very much for coming today. May I ask your view of clause 1, which is obviously the part of the Bill that talks about expressions of support, and the challenge around that? Critics have used the phrase “thought police”. Obviously, we are trying to grapple with the threat from inspiring—people who do not specifically stand up and say, “Join ISIS”, but use their position recklessly to promote such organisations by saying, “I think they are great,” and so on. Correct me, because I may not know this. Is the previous legislation that deals with the area of incitement and religious hatred devolved or reserved?

Section 18 of the Public Order Act 1986 and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 effectively do the same thing: they set out that, for an offence to have been committed, you do not have to tell people to hate, or say, “You must attack Muslim people,” or, “You must attack Jewish people”. You can express in a private or public place sentiments or views that could have the consequence of inciting racial or religious hatred. Do you see a read-across from that position, which is accepted in established law, to clause 1, so it relates to encouragement towards a proscribed organisation?

Michael Clancy: I have not, I confess, made that read-across myself, Mr Wallace, but I will go back to Edinburgh and do so later on today. The general proposition about someone making a reckless statement and about whether the person to whom the expression is directed will be encouraged to support a proscribed organisation raises a couple of issues. What is reckless? It is taking a risk, in terms of the information you convey about the outcome of what you say. What is a proscribed organisation might, too, be a difficulty, because if I were to ask members of the Committee to list all the proscribed organisations they might not be able to do that. It might also pose a difficulty regarding whether some people making statements are supporting a proscribed organisation as we understand that to be the case.

There are some issues. There is a read-across to the analogous provisions in race and religion. Of course, if we have those models to follow, and those have been followed without any difficulty since they were enacted, the Government are probably on safe ground in extending the provisions to the kind of incitement envisaged in clause 1.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 3:01 p.m.

Q Just one question, Mr Clancy, arising out of the Minister’s question about section 18 of the Public Order Act 1986 and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. Both Acts are about the use of abusive, threatening or insulting behaviour to stir up hatred, but do you agree that there is a distinction between that and actual recruitment to the cause, which is what the clause in this Bill is talking about? Are they different things?

Michael Clancy: Clearly, there is a legislative distinction between the two. It depends on what the abuse in terms of race or religion is intended to do. Is it simply to make someone feel uncomfortable, aggrieved or violated, because of their religion or race? Or is it in some kind of a way to encourage others to take up that same kind of attitude toward people based on their religion or race?

Legislation in this area, countering discrimination on the basis of religion or race, is something that we have had in this country since the 1960s. Therefore, the fact that we are continually having to look at this again means that the educative value of that legislation has not yet reached its optimum. We have to be aware of pushing that further, to make sure that those who would fall into that pattern of behaviour know that it is wrong, illegal and that they must desist from doing it.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 3:03 p.m.

Q I want to follow on from the previous issue of the person collecting the materials and the three clicks. I do not know if you heard my question to Max Hill, which was that given that section 58 of the 2000 Act is well established, has been used and has not been struck down by challenge in a European court setting, if instead of defining by three clicks it was to explore simply adding in streaming, with the reasonable excuse defence, do you think that would solve the problem of streaming as opposed to holding or downloading information?

Michael Clancy: If you have an adequate definition of streaming, that might work, but for me it is just a word that people use when they are accessing information and videos on the internet. I suspect that the kinds of videos that are covered by this legislation will not have a pop-up window that says, “Do you want to play from the start or resume from where you left off?” The idea that these might be formal productions is not the case.

If we can do something that makes the legislation tighter and more usable, of course. But we may get into those difficulties about what is meant by streaming, how long does the stream have to be and what kind of document or record is being streamed.

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Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (First sitting)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 26 June 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 10:47 a.m.

Q I have a narrow question. Clause 12 concerns the power to enter and search houses. I am trying to get a practical sense of that. There are, of course, various requirements. On at least two occasions there has to have been attempts at entry before. The purpose is this:

“to enter premises specified in the warrant for the purpose of assessing the risks posed by the person to whom the warrant relates;”

Could you expand on that? Mr Basu, what exactly do you think is meant by “assessing the risks”? What practically would be likely in a situation like that?

Assistant Commissioner Basu: This is based around lifetime offender management of terrorism. The parallel is obviously registered sex offenders, where this power exists. You are looking for anything that looks as though they have re-engaged or are breaching their notification requirements, if they are on notification. It is something that allows us to assess the ongoing risk of their re-engaging with terrorism. You might find material if you were to do such a warrant. You might find a flag being displayed. You might find material that is of use to a terrorist. That is the purpose of it.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 10:48 a.m.

Q I think we are coming towards the end. Can I just thank you very much for your evidence? Could I ask you to set the scene, assistant commissioner, of where we are with today’s threat and to put in context why these powers are needed?

Assistant Commissioner Basu: Certainly. You can listen to me or you can listen to Andrew Parker from MI5, who has spent 35 years in terrorism and says he has never seen anything like it. If I wanted to describe the threat, that is where I would start. It is definitely a shift, not a spike. We saw the start of problems that were predictable when the military push went into Mosul and Raqqa at the beginning of 2017.

Before Khalid Masood hit Westminster Bridge on 22 March, the number of leads from international partners, covert means and here in the UK were starting to increase in January. What we reached, post Khalid Masood’s attack, was probably a lowering of the bar for terrorism in this country, where people thought that perhaps we were not as hostile to terrorism as we could be and, therefore, they were capable of committing attacks. The attacks that followed were not connected in any way, shape or form, but they say something about the inspiration and the radicalisation that we have discussed.

That has left us with a trebling of our leads; on a monthly basis we deal with three times the number of investigative leads that might later work themselves through into a priority investigation against terrorism. There is more attack planning here in the UK, which is why section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is so important. Holding information is often a precursor for people seeking to do a much more serious offence down the line. We are seeing something in the region of about a 30% increase in case load.

We talk about somewhere between about 500 and 600 cases. Taking the cases that are not police and MI5-led and including the ones that are led by police alone, it is more like 650. We have talked openly about the fact that 3,000 subjects are of acute interest to us, which means 3,000 open cases of individuals who are considered a national security threat. We talk about the growing pool of those we have looked at and are no longer considered a national security threat, but who may re-engage in the future, as being 20,000.

We also have a number of issues, as we have discussed, of people who have been exposed to this in countries overseas. Now that the caliphate has collapsed, what will happen to those people? Will they return to their countries of origin? We still have a substantial number of people who could return against whom we do not have prosecutable case.

Within our communities, we continue to see a rise in extremism. Most disturbingly, along with the jihadist Islamist threat that we see in international counter-terrorism, we now see the extreme right wing growing as well. Those probably feed off of each other, which is why this becomes a whole-society problem, because we are seeing both sides of the coin. The previous Home Secretary proscribed National Action. We have done a great deal of work against National Action.

The most disturbing thing about the extreme right-wing threat, in terms of how it transfigured as National Action, is that it shows very similar signs to what was discussed about al-Muhajiroun—ALM—many years ago. It probably took years to get on top of ALM, and we did not want to make that same mistake with the extreme right-wing threat. Counting that together with the scale of the pace, our ability to counter that level of threat will be severely challenged over the next couple of years. This legislation provides me with some help on that.

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 10:58 a.m.

Q From what you are saying, there is a practical solution for any legitimate concerns there may be. There is also a situation—in a police station, for example—where you can have a duty solicitor or lawyer made available. That person could be someone of particular standing and reputation in whom we could all have faith and whom we would not have those concerns about.

Richard Atkinson: Absolutely. Again, code H allows exactly for that. If there are specific concerns about a lawyer, the duty lawyer or solicitor can be called to come and advise. That maintains privilege and maintains the defendant’s access to advice at that point.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 10:59 a.m.

Q In your earlier replies, you talked about how an individual who was detained could have a conversation without legal advice or compromising themselves. It is right, is it not, that in this environment such a conversation would not be admissible in court, under the grounds of the stop?

Richard Atkinson: Not necessarily, because although there is a provision to limit its use, it is not absolute, is it? There are three exceptions where it can be used.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 11:22 a.m.

Q Are you happy with the Bill’s oversight of that process, with the judicial commissioners and the independent commissioners being the ones who give the authorisation to retain or destroy material?

Richard Atkinson: Yes, but the issue is whether privilege is breached prior to that.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 11:22 a.m.

Q Staying on this point, but moving away from the distinction about whether a document is privileged, do you think it would help if the Bill said, “Every single time this power is used, the commissioner will be informed about it”?

Richard Atkinson: Yes, I do.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

The judicial commissioners will be the oversight for the use of the hostile port stops overall—the annual report or whatever it is.

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

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 11 June 2018

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 9:10 p.m.

I very much agree with my hon. Friend on that point. How we draw the law precisely in this area is very important. The powers will need to be backed up by appropriate safeguards and protections for those who are wholly innocent of any offence.

On the question of border security, the Bill as it stands means that a person who is detained for less than an hour will not have the right to access a solicitor, and that someone detained for more than an hour will be able to access a lawyer, but they could be required to do that within the sight and hearing of an officer. That will clearly have consequences for our cherished and valuable principle of legal professional privilege, under which people have the right to consult a lawyer and to do so in private. This is something that we will want to consider further in Committee, and I very much hope that the Government will listen to the points that have been made about the need for appropriate safeguards.

I hope that the considered nature of this debate will continue into the Committee stage. I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the House to scrutinise and, hopefully, improve this legislation in such a crucial policy area.

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.

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Cyber-attacks
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 04 June 2018

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 3:09 p.m.

The workforce at GCHQ do a tremendous job of keeping us safe from our enemies, and have done since all the way back to GCHQ’s history in Bletchley Park. I was delighted that some new GCHQ jobs were recently announced in my region, the north-west, which shows that it is not just a Cheltenham-based organisation, with sites in Yorkshire, Cornwall and now Manchester.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 3:10 p.m.

The Security Minister indicated on the radio this morning that counter-terror intelligence will now be shared with local organisations, including the police and local councils. Will he explain how the cyber-security of that data will be guaranteed at a local level and what training will be given to those who handle it? Crucially, will he confirm that additional resources will be given to every organisation that is asked to store it?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 3:10 p.m.

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s question. We are sharing the information more widely in three pilot schemes that will be funded by the Home Office, so the funding will be met by central Government. The first three pilots are going to be based in Birmingham, Manchester and London. Of course, local authorities, social services and mainstream county police forces deal with sensitive information every day, and that is already subject to data protection rules and appropriate levels of security. We will continue to advise them on that, and the information that we share will of course be declassified before they get it.

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National Crime Agency
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 16 April 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
16 Apr 2018, 3:07 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes an important point about self-defence and the rights of homeowners. He will obviously have seen the recent events—I cannot of course refer to that case because it is sub judice, or certainly an issue in hand, but there is clear guidance about this from the Ministry of Justice. It is important that people understand they have a right to self-defence, but they should sometimes be careful not to take the law into their own hands. If the organised criminals are well armed and dangerous, people should rely on the help of the blue light services.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
16 Apr 2018, 2:58 p.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for facilitating my further visit to the National Crime Agency this morning.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) referred to the increasing threat posed by county lines. Will the £3.6 million allocated to the new national co-ordinating centre come from elsewhere in the Home Office budget, and if the National Crime Agency needs additional resources, will they be provided?

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.

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Kerslake Arena Attack Review
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Wednesday 28 March 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 1:01 p.m.

I pay respect to my right hon. Friend, a former Security Minister, who knows too well what goes on and the complexities for which we plan. One of the failings identified in the Kerslake report is that the national inter-agency liaison officer in this event was too much involved in command and control of the fire service, rather than providing advice to the fire service. When I look back over many other incidents, that officer has been there as an adviser, not a gold or silver commander at the time, and that is one of the lessons to be learned. It is important that we in the Home Office and those in fire authorities around the country consider how we are deploying that key individual to ensure that they are doing what they are supposed to, rather having lots of other responsibilities lumped on to them, meaning that we do not necessarily get the best results when they are tested in such environments.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 1:01 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) for requesting this urgent question and that it was granted. It was sobering for us all to read the names of the victims at the start of the Kerslake report. Today, we think of them and of all those affected by the terrible attack in Manchester on 22 May 2017.

The review makes it clear that there is a lot to be proud of in the responses of the city region of Greater Manchester and of its emergency services. At the same time, however, it is entirely right that we learn lessons for the future. I agree with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, who said clearly that bereaved families must be at the heart of the process. Does the Minister agree that communication and procedures are central to those lessons? There was no shared communication across the agencies of the declaration of Operation Plato, and Greater Manchester fire and rescue service was left, in the words of the review, “outside the loop” and could not play a meaningful role in the response for nearly two hours. The first meeting of the strategic co-ordinating group could, the review said, have been held “earlier than 04:15 hrs”. The set-up of the casualty bureau was severely hampered by what is described as a

“the complete failure of the National Mutual Aid Telephony system provided by Vodafone.”

Vodafone has a national contract with the Home Office, so will the Minister examine that contract and the guarantees that can be secured from Vodafone to ensure that such a situation does not happen again—

Break in Debate

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 1:03 p.m.

Finally, will the Minister be reviewing the joint operating principles for responding to a terror attack in the light of the matters I mentioned?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 1:06 p.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his questions. As for this last point, we always review such things. We have a new Contest process, which involves examining where we can learn lessons all the way through, and there are many lessons to be learned from all the tragic attacks we had last year. He is absolutely right about Vodafone, and I am determined to ensure that we find out what went wrong. On the plus side, it has not happened before or after, but that is not an excuse and we must ensure that we receive guarantees, and exercising can help with that.

I want to highlight one important point. I have read some of the media over the past few days, and one would not be blamed for thinking that no one was there on the scene, but that was not the case. Within one minute of the explosion, which was targeted at women and children, British Transport police, police community support officers and paramedics were there. Within 12 minutes, ambulances were on the scene. It is regretful that the fire service was not there, but that was not key to whether people were getting treatment. The other blue-light emergency services did a fantastic job. They set up a casualty station, and they improvised. I know that the Labour party fully understands that and supports that view, and it is something that we should reflect on when the media picks on the worst, not the best, of the event.

We will continue to keep things under review, and I have always said to the shadow Minister that if he would like to visit some of the response units to see how things are being worked through, I would be delighted to host him—or any other Member—to ensure that the complexity of the situation is understood.

The biggest point in relation to the report and all terrorist actions is that we often start by not knowing what the situation is. All Members will remember the day of the Westminster Bridge attack: we were locked in our offices and shut off from one another because we did not know whether it involved firearms or a bomb or whether another person was in the House or not. That is the biggest challenge that our blue-light services face—“Is it a single explosion?” If lots of protocols had been broken in Manchester and there had been a second device—there are lots of examples of where second devices or attacks have been employed—I would hate to have been standing here for another reason, saying that we exposed our emergency services to too much danger because we rushed in or did not do something. It is a difficult balance to make, but I think the right calls were made on the night. Yes, there were some failures, but my constituents and those of the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) can be confident that help was there and that the blue-light emergency services did a fantastic and brave job.

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Regional Organised Crime Units
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 26 February 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
26 Feb 2018, 2:46 p.m.

There is absolutely no intention of demonising a nation, an ethnicity or a culture. However, it is important to note that illicit money flows into the United Kingdom come predominantly from China and Russia, and that we have to tackle that. The powers in the Criminal Finance Act 2017 will allow us to go upstream and to take real action. If we take their money away, those people will know that they and their dirty money are not welcome in this country, and that they can either go to prison here or go home.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
26 Feb 2018, 2:47 p.m.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to visit the National Crime Agency this morning to see the great work that its staff are doing to tackle crime. However, there is little doubt that the tech giants could be doing a great deal more. I know that the Prime Minister has recently asked them to do so, but she was also asking them to do more in her early months as Home Secretary nearly eight years ago. When can we have more emphasis on action rather than words?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
26 Feb 2018, 2:47 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that the empowerment that the internet gives to criminals, terrorists and radicalisers is extraordinary. That is why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has helped to lead the charge in the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, and recently visited silicon valley to ensure that companies there start to deliver. We have seen significant changes involving the taking down of radicalising material and enabling us to catch the bad people who are doing the crimes. It is, however, important to note that one of the ways in which the National Crime Agency, the police and our intelligence services get to the bottom of these crimes is through the use of the powers given to them under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, whose effectiveness some Members in this House still try to block.

See more like "Proscription of Hezbollah"

Proscription of Hezbollah
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Thursday 25 January 2018

(2 years ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I have heard a number of speakers make the point about the links. I simply observe that their activities are distinct—the activities of violence, which we absolutely condemn, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, engagement with the democratic process. Labour Members have supported the balance that the Government are striking, which is not to say that I am not sensitive to the views I have heard from both sides of the Chamber. I respect those views.

When analysing the difficult and important matters of proscription, the balance as it stands, which we support, is proscription of the military wing. That should not at this stage be extended to the political wing, for the reasons I have set out.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
25 Jan 2018, 4:20 p.m.

I congratulate hon. and right hon. Members, including the right hon. Member for Enfield North (Joan Ryan), on securing this debate and raising this important issue.

The Government are proud to be a friend of Israel, and we are proud to support working with Israel. No Conservative Member, and no one in this House, supports the use of terrorism or violence. My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) and I have often been on the wrong side of terrorist attacks. I have first-hand experience of violence, intimidation and terrorism, and no one more than me wants to see people who use violence to progress their beliefs being stopped, prosecuted and put away, or driven out of this country at the bare minimum.

Perhaps I should start by reassuring hon. Members that the Government are determined to do all we can to minimise the terrorist threat to the United Kingdom and to our interests and friends abroad, and to disrupt those who engage in terrorism. Proscription is an important, but not the only, part of the Government’s strategy to disrupt the activities of terrorist groups and those who provide support to them.

As many Members have said today, Hezbollah was established during the Lebanese civil war and in the aftermath of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in 1982. From the outset, resistance to Israel has been an important part of Hezbollah’s agenda. However, Hezbollah also represents Lebanon’s Shi’a community and, over time, has gained significant support from that community. Hezbollah provides social and political functions in Lebanon. As a major political group and the largest non-state military force in the country, Hezbollah clearly plays an important role in Lebanon.

The UK Government have long held the view that elements of Hezbollah have been involved in conducting and supporting terrorism and, as a result, proscribed Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation in 2001. Not only did I listen but I heeded many of the comments made today about Hezbollah’s statements and beliefs, which are outrageous, disgusting and should be condemned at every opportunity. Hezbollah is anti-Semitic and wishes the destruction of our ally and friend, the state of Israel. We support none of that.

In 2008, in recognition of more such activity, proscription was extended to include the whole of Hezbollah’s military apparatus, namely the Jihad Council and all the units reporting to it. Hezbollah’s military wing is also designated in the UK under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010. Funds or economic resources owned, held or controlled by Hezbollah’s military wing in the UK therefore can be, and will be, frozen. In July 2012, the EU designated Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organisation under the EU asset freezing regime.

Although the proscription of Hezbollah in its entirety is kept under review, our current position maintains a balance. I have heard from many Members today that Hezbollah’s military and political wings are indivisible, joined at the hip and centrally led. That is not, as the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald) pointed out, the view of every country. Australia, New Zealand and the EU take a different view. I pledge to the House that we constantly monitor these groups and individuals involved in them. We constantly review the use of proscription as a means to take action where we see fit.

I wish to reassure hon. Members. It has sort of been implied that Ministers pick who to proscribe off the top of their head and that we ignore our security services, the police and the military. Colonel Richard Kemp is often quoted. Ministers do not make up proscription decisions over a cup of coffee. We make them on the recommendations submitted to us by our law enforcement agencies, security services here and intelligence services overseas, and we make a judgment.

See more like "Draft Investigatory Powers (Interception by Businesses etc. for Monitoring and Record-keeping Purposes) Regulations 2018 Draft Investigatory Powers (Technical Capability) Regulations 2018 Draft Investigatory Powers (Review of Notices and Technical Advisory Board) Regulations 2018 Draft Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice) Regulations 2018"

Draft Investigatory Powers (Interception by Businesses etc. for Monitoring and Record-keeping Purposes) Regulations 2018 Draft Investigatory Powers (Technical Capability) Regulations 2018 Draft Investigatory Powers (Review of Notices and Technical Advisory Board) Regulations 2018 Draft Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice) Regulations 2018
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Thursday 25 January 2018

(2 years ago)

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General Committees
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
25 Jan 2018, 11:31 a.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Rosindell. I am pleased to be given the opportunity to debate these important regulations, which are being made under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The Act passed with strong support from Members on both sides of the House of Commons and received Royal Assent in November 2016, following unprecedented parliamentary scrutiny.

That legislation brings together the powers available to our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies to obtain communications and data about communications. It ensures that those powers and the safeguards that apply to them are clear and understandable, and it radically overhauls how the powers are authorised and overseen. It introduces a double lock for the most intrusive powers so that they cannot be used until the decision to do so has been approved by a judge. It has also created a powerful new Investigatory Powers Commissioner—a post held by Lord Justice Fulford—to oversee how the powers are used.

Let me be clear: the powers in the Act are absolutely crucial to our national security and the safety of our citizens. They make sure that our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies are equipped to carry out their critical work of protecting the public and ensuring that terrorists, paedophiles and other perpetrators of serious crimes can be brought to justice. In the light of the horrifying attacks in this country in the past year, making sure that our agencies maintain the powers that they need is more important than ever.

The regulations are all intrinsically linked to the implementation of the Act. They do not create any new powers; rather, they enable a number of the Act’s provisions to be exercised and set out further details of how certain powers will be used. Collectively, they also create additional safeguards about the use of the powers, building on those set out in the primary legislation.

We will debate four sets of regulations. First, the draft Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice) Regulations 2018 bring into force five codes of practice covering a number of vital provisions under the Act. The codes relate to the interception of communications, equipment interference, the bulk acquisition of communications data, national security notices and the intelligence services’ retention and use of bulk personal datasets. Each of the five codes sets out processes and safeguards governing the use of the investigatory powers to which they relate. They give detail on how the relevant powers should be used, including examples of best practice. They provide additional clarity and ensure that the highest standards of professionalism and compliance with this vital legislation are adhered to.

The codes are primarily intended to guide the public authorities that can exercise powers under the Act, as well as communications service providers that might be required to provide assistance in giving effect to its provisions. The codes provide information on the process associated with applying to use each of the powers, as well as the safeguards and oversight arrangements that will ensure that the powers are used in the intended manner. The codes are detailed and comprehensive, together with more than 400 pages of guidance and best practice, ensuring that the use of these important powers is subject to the most stringent safeguards.

Secondly, the draft Investigatory Powers (Technical Capability) Regulations 2018 set out the obligation that may be imposed on a telecommunications or postal operator in a technical capability notice. The purpose of such a notice is to ensure that when a warrant or authorisation is served on or given to an operator, that company has the capability to provide assistance, giving effect to it securely and quickly.

As part of maintaining a technical capability, the Act specifies that a telecommunications operator may be required to maintain the capability to remove encryption from communications that it has applied or that has been applied on its behalf. The regulations do not change that position and simply make it clear that such an obligation could be included in a technical capability notice when necessary and proportionate.

The Act sets out robust safeguards on the use of technical capability notices. Such a notice may be given by the Secretary of State only where necessary and proportionate, having taken into account a number of factors such as technical feasibility and cost, and having consulted with the operator to which a notice is to be given. The decision of the Secretary of State to give a notice must be approved by a judicial commissioner.

Thirdly, the draft Investigatory Powers (Review of Notices and Technical Advisory Board) Regulations 2018 are fundamentally linked to the technical capability regulations. The Act provides for the important safeguard that a telecommunications operator in receipt of a technical capability notice, a national security notice or a data retention notice may seek a review of that notice by the Secretary of State. In conducting such a review, the Secretary of State must consult the Technical Advisory Board—a non-departmental public body—as to the technical feasibility and cost of the notice. These regulations set out the circumstances in which a review may take place and how the board must be constituted.

The final set of regulations is the draft Investigatory Powers (Interception by Businesses etc. for Monitoring and Record-keeping Purposes) Regulations 2018. The Act provides that it is a criminal offence to intercept communications in the absence of lawful authority. It also makes clear that lawful authority includes interception by businesses or other bodies where it is legitimate practice. The regulations set out what conduct that includes, and simply ensure that companies can undertake routine activities without falling foul of the offence of unlawful interception. Such activities might include, for example, call centres recording telephone calls for training purposes or companies scanning their computer networks to detect cyber-attacks.

In summary, the regulations give effect to provisions already set out in primary legislation that is fundamental to our national security. The regulations make clear how a number of provisions in that Act will operate, and establish additional safeguards to the already rigorous controls set out in the primary legislation.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard

It a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Rosindell.

I will make a few general remarks and then deal with the regulations in the same order as the Minister, for the convenience of the Committee. I pay tribute to the work done on the Investigatory Powers Bill during its passage through Parliament, particular that of my predecessors in the shadow Home Office team, who sought reassurances and changes, and that of my predecessor as the Member of Parliament for Torfaen, the now Lord Murphy, who chaired the cross-party Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, which considered it in detail and suggested a number of changes.

Turning to the draft Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice) Regulations 2018, the Opposition believe that strong powers should always be accompanied by strong safeguards. The regulations bring into practice five specific codes under paragraph 1(1) of schedule 7 to the Investigatory Powers Act, dealing with the matters of bulk acquisition of communications data, equipment interference, interception of communications, national security notices, and the intelligence services’ retention and use of bulk personal datasets. The Opposition believe that in the context and framework of the Act the codes of practice are important, and we do not oppose bringing them into effect. As the Minister has already set out, clarity, best practice and compliance with them across the board is extremely important, and I hope those codes will have that effect.

Secondly, the draft Investigatory Powers (Technical Capability) Regulations 2018, set out the obligations that may be contained in a technical capability notice given by the Secretary of State under the Act. Clearly, for the Act’s provisions to work, relevant operators—defined as a postal operator or a telecommunications operator—have to have technical capability, and a technical capability notice imposes obligations to ensure that those bodies have the ability to provide assistance regarding warrants and authorisation. The regulations clearly set out the obligations that can be placed in notices, and telecommunications operators that provide only banking, insurance, investment or other financial services are excluded. There is also a requirement that certain obligations apply only to operators providing a service to more than 10,000 customers. We believe that those limitations are sensible. We also believe in the importance of necessity and proportionality, to which the Minister has already referred. Therefore, on that basis, the Opposition will not oppose the regulations.

Thirdly, the draft Investigatory Powers (Review of Notices and Technical Advisory Board) Regulations 2018 apply where a data retention notice has been issued and the body concerned wishes to review any part of it as unreasonable. In those circumstances, it can be referred to the Secretary of State for review, but he or she has to consult the Technical Advisory Board. That referral has to be within 28 days, starting from either when the notice was given, or when a particular variation was made. The Technical Advisory Board has to consider the technical requirements and financial consequences of the notice for the person making the reference.

The regulations are also clear in terms of the composition of the Technical Advisory Board. There has to be a minimum of 13 members and a maximum of 15. Six must represent the interests of the operators, on whom obligations can be imposed by a retention notice, a national security notice or a technical security notice. The board has to have at least one and a maximum of three members who are independent, not representing either those on whom the obligations can be imposed or those who can apply for warrants and authorisation. Again, the Opposition believe that the regulations seem to constitute useful safeguards in the context of the Act, and we will not oppose them.

The fourth and final set of regulations is the draft Investigatory Powers (Interception by Businesses etc. for Monitoring and Record-keeping Purposes) Regulations 2018. Section 3 of the Act creates an offence of intentionally intercepting a communication during transition by a telecommunication system without lawful authority. The regulations set out the conduct that can be authorised: it has to be for one of the purposes set out in the regulation, and it has to be done by or with the express consent of someone who has the right to control the operation or use of the telecommunication system in question. There are also further restrictions in the regulations. We believe that that framework, with intentional interception being illegal save in the prescribed circumstances, provides a very sensible balance. Again, the Opposition will not oppose the regulations.

See more like "Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism"

Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Tuesday 19 December 2017

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
19 Dec 2017, 6 p.m.

Proscription opens up a whole new level of offences for which people can be prosecuted. Proscribing an organisation allows asset-freezing and prosecution, but other offences can be linked to such activity. The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that it is often hard to prove membership—very few of these organisations have membership cards and joining ceremonies—but the order gives our law enforcement agencies more powers with which to prosecute a campaign against them.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned flags, no doubt referring to Hezbollah and Hamas. Those organisations are not proscribed in their entirety. Their military wings are proscribed, but as Hezbollah forms part of the Government in Lebanon and Hamas plays an active role in its part of the region as a member of a Government, the proscription applies only to the military wing. In some cases the flags are identical, but that does not mean that if people participate in Hezbollah-supporting actions here that constitute terrorism or anything linked to it, our police and law enforcement agencies will not act. We have acted in respect of Hezbollah and Hamas in the past, either to disrupt activity or to bring prosecutions.

We do not condone any terrorist activity, and we always take a cautious approach to de-proscription. De-proscription of a particular group should not be interpreted as the UK Government’s condoning any previous activities of that group. We have always been clear about the fact that HIG was a terrorist organisation. Groups that do not meet the threshold for proscription must remain within the law, and are not free to spread hatred, fund terrorist activity or incite violence as they please. The police have comprehensive powers to take action against individuals who engage in such activity, under the criminal law. We are determined to detect and disrupt all terrorist threat, whether home-grown or international. Proscription is just one weapon in the considerable armoury that is at the disposal of the Government, the police and the security services to disrupt terrorist activity.

The Government continue to exercise the proscription power in a proportionate manner, in accordance with the law. We recognise that proscription potentially interferes with individuals’ rights, particularly those protected by article 10—freedom of expression—and article 11 —freedom of association—of the European convention on human rights, and should be exercised only when absolutely necessary. The order demonstrates that when proscription is no longer necessary, we are prepared to act to de-proscribe groups that are no longer “concerned in terrorism”.

I believe that it is right to add these four groups—al-Ashtar Brigades, al-Mukhtar Brigades, Hasam and Liwa al-Thawra Brigade—and their aliases to the list of the proscribed organisations in schedule 2 of the Act, and, equally, that it is proportionate to remove HIG from the list. Subject to the agreement of both Houses, the order will come into force on Friday 22 December.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Dec 2017, 6:04 p.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for his remarks. I also ask him to pass on our thanks to the Home Secretary for the letter that she sent yesterday to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), the shadow Home Secretary, setting out this decision.

Let me make it absolutely clear that the Opposition support the motion. We support the decision to proscribe the four groups that the Minister mentioned, and the de-proscription of HIG. Any Government’s first duty is to protect the public, and Labour Members appreciate the difficult balance that has to be struck when considering the application of the test in section 3 of the 2000 Act.

I turn to the four groups to be proscribed. We certainly hope that that decision will assist in tackling terror activity and send from this House a powerful signal of condemnation of the activities of those groups. I would, however, make three observations, and I hope the Minister will take them in the constructive spirit in which they are intended.

First, public confidence in this process is very important and, although I of course appreciate that some matters have to remain confidential for reasons of national security, to the extent that it is possible, transparency is important. The Minister will be aware that the former independent reviewer of the terror legislation, David Anderson QC, made various suggestions in successive reports, including when considering these matters, looking at the cohesion and capability of organisations. It would be useful if the Government could respond in due course to David Anderson’s 2016 report and the suggestions made therein.

My second observation relates to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes): proscription is of course only one of the measures available, and our ability to tackle terrorism, at whatever level and wherever it comes from, depends on proper resourcing of not only counter-terrorist policing but mainstream policing. When these terrible major incidents happen, it is not only counter-terror policing that is affected; resources are inevitably drawn in from mainstream policing as well. In addition, I commend neighbourhood policing, which not only provides reassurance in our communities, but can provide vital local intelligence in the fight against terrorism.

Thirdly, as we move on to the next stage of the Brexit negotiations, I hope that the Minister will speak to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union about the toolkit available to us from the European arrest warrant and Europol to ensure that that is a high priority in this stage of the negotiations to enable us to tackle terrorism across the continent.

On the decision to de-proscribe HIG, as the Minister has set out, de-proscription is appropriate in some cases. Where it is appropriate, it should be promptly dealt with when the statutory test is no longer met. Again, however, I commend to the Minister as much transparency as possible on this decision. As recently as June of this year, a House of Commons Library briefing stated that HIG was believed to have some UK-based supporters, and there were indications that HIG had conducted attacks on Afghan and indeed western targets. Clarification of when the application to de-proscribe was made, when the statutory test ceased to be met and that this situation will be kept under review would be reassuring to Members across the House.

Above all, our counter-terror policy needs to be carefully thought out. Above everything else, it needs to be effective. The incidents this year at Westminster bridge, London bridge, Finsbury Park, Parson’s Green and the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester are a reminder of the terrible threat these callous acts cause to our society, but they also show the tremendous efforts of our emergency services, and the resolve and strength our communities have shown in the face of these threats should give us cause for great optimism.

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Major Cyber-Crimes
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 20 November 2017

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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

The right hon. Gentleman asks a valid question. Of course, our ambition is to continue in the same way, with access to and from member states. We have made a good offer, and we will see what the European Commission’s offer in response is.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Nov 2017, 2:30 p.m.

Last week, the chief executive officer of the National Cyber Security Centre said that, in its first year of operation, the centre had responded to over 600 significant incidents. Some of those threats come from hostile states and from areas of the world that are ungoverned. What practical steps are the Government going to take to build the international coalition that will be required to deal with this issue?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman raises some really valid questions and points, which we have to build on. That is why, alongside the national cyber-security strategy, we have been working with the National Crime Agency and its international network—we have NCA officers all the way round the world. Embedded in that is the National Cyber Crime Unit. GCHQ, as an intelligence agency, works with many of the member states of the European Union and the “Five Eyes” to tackle this issue. We have seen a number of very successful operations, most recently in December, when, in an operation led by Europol, we took down the Avalanche cloud hosting service that was sending over 1 million fraudulent emails a week.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 16 October 2017

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
16 Oct 2017, 2:30 p.m.

My hon. Friend is right. Internet companies could do more with their technology. They could do much more to recognise that they have a responsibility for much of the stuff that is hosted on their sites and they could do more to take it down. That is why the United Kingdom Government, through the Global Internet Forum, are taking the lead in dealing with the issue. The Home Secretary was only recently in Silicon Valley, talking to those companies and trying to put further pressure on them to use their profits and vast wealth actually to do something about it.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
16 Oct 2017, 2:30 p.m.

As part of the Government’s strategy for online safety, they are seeking to ensure that all those suppliers bidding for information-sensitive contracts are certificated under their Cyber Essentials scheme. Yet the Government have admitted to me in a written answer that they do not even bother to count the number of suppliers signed up to that scheme. In those circumstances, how can the Government ever look at and consider the success of their policy?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman misses the point. The authority placing the contract will, of course, verify the conditions of the contract before signing it. Whether we put it together and say, “We’ve got 1,000”, is slightly the second point. The main issue is whether it is properly done. On top of that, the UK Government as a whole invest £1.9 billion into the national cyber-security strategy to ensure that we deal with threats against our companies and individuals.

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Online Radicalisation
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Nick Thomas-Symonds
Monday 16 October 2017

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
16 Oct 2017, 2:30 p.m.

My hon. Friend is right. Internet companies could do more with their technology. They could do much more to recognise that they have a responsibility for much of the stuff that is hosted on their sites and they could do more to take it down. That is why the United Kingdom Government, through the Global Internet Forum, are taking the lead in dealing with the issue. The Home Secretary was only recently in Silicon Valley, talking to those companies and trying to put further pressure on them to use their profits and vast wealth actually to do something about it.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
16 Oct 2017, 2:30 p.m.

As part of the Government’s strategy for online safety, they are seeking to ensure that all those suppliers bidding for information-sensitive contracts are certificated under their Cyber Essentials scheme. Yet the Government have admitted to me in a written answer that they do not even bother to count the number of suppliers signed up to that scheme. In those circumstances, how can the Government ever look at and consider the success of their policy?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman misses the point. The authority placing the contract will, of course, verify the conditions of the contract before signing it. Whether we put it together and say, “We’ve got 1,000”, is slightly the second point. The main issue is whether it is properly done. On top of that, the UK Government as a whole invest £1.9 billion into the national cyber-security strategy to ensure that we deal with threats against our companies and individuals.