Sir Edward Davey contributions to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019

Tue 22nd January 2019 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Commons Chamber)
Ping Pong: House of Commons
15 interactions (1,027 words)
Tue 11th September 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Commons Chamber)
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage: House of Commons
37 interactions (3,029 words)
Mon 11th June 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
Money resolution: House of Commons
15 interactions (2,464 words)

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

(Ping Pong: House of Commons)
Sir Edward Davey Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd January 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point, but if someone goes to a designated area, their reasonable excuse will have to cover all their activities. If they say they are going as a doctor but also commit a terrorist offence or crime, that reasonable excuse will effectively fall away. Everything they do will have to be covered by the reasonable excuse; they are not de facto lifted out of having committed an offence. It is important to understand that going to a designated area with a legitimate reason, such as aid work, and then engaging in some other activity will not prevent them from being in breach of statute and therefore guilty of an offence.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:35 p.m.

I seek clarification. In previous debates, I understood the designated area approach to mean that just being there would create an offence, but in his response to the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock), the Minister seems to be suggesting that the prosecuting authorities would have to find evidence not just that the individual was there but that they were doing something other than what they said they were doing.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:37 p.m.

The original offence always required a reasonable excuse. The right hon. Gentleman will be a supporter of the European convention on human rights. Of course, people have certain rights to travel—to visit family or carry out certain other important activities, for example—and the House would consider the restriction of such activities to be a very serious matter. We have to bear it in mind that people travel legitimately. We are not in the business of drawing a circle around somewhere and saying no one is allowed in. That said, someone would have to have a reasonable excuse and present it so that it can be tested and investigated.

Their lordships have said—and I agree—that there are legitimate reasons for entering war zones. Among others, I am thinking of aid workers and Crown servants working for the UK Government or the United Nations. They would have legitimate reasons for being there, and we do not want to shut those off to people, but we do want to make sure they have a reasonable excuse. As is often the case in legislation, however, there was some concern about whether to have an exhaustive list, and risk missing something, or an indicative list, and we have opted for an indicative list.

Some people are concerned about the delivery of humanitarian aid—an amendment on that has been selected today—but I have made sure that the reasonable excuse of delivering humanitarian aid is tempered by the provision in proposed new subsection (3E) in Lords amendment 3 that

“the reference to the provision of aid of a humanitarian nature does not include the provision of aid in contravention of internationally recognised principles and standards applicable to the provision of humanitarian aid”.

That provision is there because, as we have seen before I am afraid, terrorist groups sometimes use humanitarian aid as cover to go somewhere. Ignoring recognised principles, they pick those to whom they deliver the aid and carry out other offences while doing so. By taking that approach, we preserve the freedoms we believe in while sending a clear message that there are areas we do not want people to go to and that going there could in itself become an offence.

We are all struggling in the west to deal with the emerging threat of foreign fighters as failed state safe areas are becoming the routine. Members on both sides of the House rightly get angry when foreign fighters come back and we cannot prosecute them because gathering evidence of deeper and more complex offences is very challenging. We have looked at the Australian and Danish models and found the designated area offence along with a sunset clause and review—it is not indefinite—to be one of the best ways to send a strong message to our constituents that going off to fight in these places is either a terrorist offence or not to be encouraged.

I do not want young people in my constituency going to fight whether for glory or in the commission of terrorist offences, or for anything else; I want them to realise that, however seductive the grooming on the internet, it would turn into a horror story if they went. Also, we do not want young people going out, being trained in terrorist techniques, coming back and posing a threat. In response to the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock), I simply say, however, that the offence must reflect the freedoms we hold dear. We instinctively find it a challenge to restrict movement in this country—we do not like it, and why should we? It is a freedom we enjoy.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:51 p.m.

The UK was the first country in the world to set up a counter-terrorism referral unit. It is in the Met police and has taken down over a quarter of a million pieces of material from the internet. It has been around for some years now and has been a great success, very quickly getting on to the internet and content service providers. We have also done extensive work alongside them to get them to improve their response, and we are going to go further: the online harms White Paper, a joint Home Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport document, will be out imminently and in it we have said that we will look at everything from voluntary measures all the way through to regulation. It is incredibly frustrating as the Security Minister to proscribe a far-right organisation only to find that its hateful website or its allies are spouting rubbish and bigotry from, for example, the United States, protected under one jurisdiction. That is incredibly difficult to have to deal with.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:52 p.m.

I thank the Minister for the fact that the Government are not opposing amendment 13 made by the Opposition parties in the other place; that is very welcome. He was talking about the review he will undertake as a result of that amendment. Can he tell us a little more about the remit and timescale of the review? Perhaps he was about to do that anyway, but it would be helpful to have that on the record.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:53 p.m.

We have not formed the terms of reference. The timescale is six months; within that period we will appoint an independent reviewer. I am incredibly happy to take suggestions on that from all parts of the House, from both the Back Benches and Front Benches, and I will be happy to meet the right hon. Gentleman to discuss his ideas. I am pleased that this will give the critics of Prevent the opportunity to produce evidence, because time and again we have to spend time knocking down allegations without any evidence behind them. I will look forward to them producing that evidence as part of the process.

Break in Debate

Stephen Twigg Hansard

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Aid workers—whether directly employed by DFID or other donor countries, or employed by other non-governmental organisations or private contractors—require security arrangements in precisely the sorts of countries that we are discussing. That is an important part of the aid effort, and therefore it is, as he suggests, covered by my amendment.

My concern is that the term “aid of a humanitarian nature” does not explicitly include such peace-building programmes. I fear that without a clear exemption, there is a risk that peace building could be at the mercy of interpretation on what constitutes a reasonable excuse. This is a relatively low-profile area of international activity, so I think there is a risk that it may not be widely understood. I note that, as the SNP spokesman rightly said, on Third Reading in the other place Earl Howe for the Government said:

“In the absence of such an exemption the Government are clear that entering and remaining in a designated area for the purpose of engaging in peacebuilding would constitute a reasonable excuse.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 15 January 2019; Vol. 795, c. 141.]

That commitment is welcome, but I think the risk remains that were such a case to come to court, juries might not have a full understanding of peace building and might not understand it to be covered by the concept of humanitarian activity. I do not think anybody in this House would want the Bill to have the unintended consequence of deterring NGOs from going into conflict areas or post-conflict areas. I urge the Minister, if he gets the chance to do so in responding to the debate, to give a commitment to the importance of peace building. Ideally, he will do so, as per my amendment, by adding this activity to the list of specified purposes. Alternatively, he could make it explicitly clear today that peacekeeping is covered by the term “aid of a humanitarian nature”, and he could reflect that in the policy guidance.

Finally, let me refer to human rights monitoring. Rightly, the Bill now refers to

“carrying out work as a journalist”

but my amendment seeks to extend the provision to cover those who are undertaking human rights monitoring or advocacy. The United Nations defines human rights monitoring as seeking

“to gather information about the human rights situation in a country or region over time through readily available methods, with the goal of engaging in advocacy to address human rights violations.”

That is dangerous and incredibly important work. Without human rights defenders on the ground, injustices too often go unchallenged, and the most marginalised and vulnerable people have little protection from abuses of power. Those who work in the field of human rights monitoring and advocacy often put themselves in grave danger to shine a light on the abuse of power. I believe they have a right to know that when they are conducting that important work, they have protection in UK law that recognises their legitimate reasons for travelling to such designated areas.

I finish by saying that although it is fundamental that we strengthen our legislation to tackle terrorism, it is important to ensure that when we do so, we do not inadvertently undermine the very values that terrorists seek to attack. We have a proud record as an open, outward-looking country that does not turn away when it witnesses injustice. It would be sad if the Bill had the unintended consequence of limiting the contribution of our own citizens to development programmes, peace building and human rights monitoring in some of the world’s most fragile states. Although I will not press my amendment to a Division, I hope that the Minister will consider the points that I and others have made about this and will, even at this late stage, consider accepting my amendment.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:34 p.m.

It is a real privilege to follow the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg). Had he pressed his amendment, I would have voted for it. I agree with everything he said in his general remarks and with what he said about the real challenge being to balance security and the need to tackle people who threaten our way of life with the protection of the values that make our way of life. He made that point specifically by building on the progress that we saw made in the other place with Lords amendment 3, which is very welcome, and I hope the Minister will cover that point in his response to the debate.

This House should thank Members in the other place because, as we heard the Minister say, they strengthened the legislation in several areas. They particularly strengthened it in respect of concerns that I and others had about civil liberties and freedoms, to make sure that innocent people were not inadvertently caught by some of the new offences that will be created. Lords amendment 1 in particular makes it absolutely clear—to be fair to him, I think the Minister had this in mind—that journalists and people doing academic research will have extra special protections.

We have talked about Lords amendment 3, but Lords amendment 13 on the review of the Prevent strategy—I intervened to ask the Minister about it—is really welcome and will support the Prevent strategy in its objectives. Both today and when we have discussed the matter before, the Minister has rightly said that there are a lot of good things about Prevent, and I agree with him. One of my concerns, which was why I supported the case for a review, was that some of the people who criticised Prevent gave valid criticisms, which I hope will be taken on board during the review, and others made the point that whether or not Prevent was doing the right work and whether or not it was successful, it had lost the trust of some communities. I hope the review will support the work that the Government rightly want to do by rebuilding trust. The review can play a positive role in the meeting of the objectives that I think we all share in this House.

One issue that did not find favour in the other place relates to something the Minister said about proscribed organisations. My colleagues in the other place wanted to see whether there could be a relatively regular review of the list of proscribed organisations. Indeed, Lord Anderson, who is well known and has huge experience in this policy area, said he believed that at least six of the organisations on the proscribed list really should not be there. I hope I can tempt the Minister to say, if he feels able to, whether a process of review of proscribed organisations already goes on somewhere and, if not, whether he would favour one, either specified in the Bill or dealt with outside it. I hope he will look into that, because it would be helpful and welcome.

In closing my brief remarks, let me just say that it is good that the Government have either agreed to accept the amendments made in the other place or to come forward with concessions.

John Woodcock Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:29 p.m.

Far be it from me to be a discordant voice in this House, but I have real concerns that the House of Lords have not strengthened the Bill and may have fundamentally weakened parts of it, particularly in respect of the terror travel ban, which, as I said earlier, I have been campaigning for the Minister to adopt for well over a year.

I do not know whether you have had a chance to see the British satirical film “Four Lions”, Madam Deputy Speaker, but it recounts the exploits of four hapless British wannabe jihadis from my home city of Sheffield who are determined to wage jihad. The film opens with one of them getting an invitation to attend a wedding in Pakistan. He knows full well that there is no such wedding, and in fact he and his friend are going over there to be part of a jihadi training camp in the Pakistani mountains.

Although that film is fiction and satire, that excuse is commonly used by people who are overwhelmingly suspected of going over to areas with high levels of jihadi activity to train as foreign fighters, with the potential to then bring that training, knowledge and extremism back to British shores. The whole point of the designated area offence was to make that more difficult. I fully endorse the push of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) to get official recognition for aid workers and journalists. I recognise that there would be a total outcry if someone who verified themselves as a legitimate journalist or aid worker were captured by this legislation. I find it almost impossible to concede that that would happen if they were in fact genuine, but if the measure does give reassurance to development agencies and to members of the fourth estate, I can understand it and agree that it is a good thing.

However, I have real concerns about the list of family excuses, which will surely prove incredibly difficult to disprove once they have been stated. Now that they are up in lights in the Bill, it will become that much harder to bring any prosecutions, and that much harder to deter people from travelling to become foreign fighters, which is, of course, what the legislation is intended to do. It is supposed not to catch people once they are there, but to deter them from travelling in the first place. Clearly, I am in an unusually small minority in this House in expressing that view, but I fear that we will come to rue agreeing such wide-ranging and easy-to-fake excuses in the Bill, and we may need to return to it in future months and years.

Finally, let me just say a word on the review of Prevent. It is of course right that any Government should seek periodically to review flagship parts of any policy. Certainly, in the critical area of preventing extremism and preventing terrorism gaining a grip in our own communities, I very much hope that this review is carried out and is understood in the spirit of remaining robustly in favour of the overall goal of Government, which is to be able to find ways to intervene to stop extremism taking hold. We need a dispassionate analysis of how, in its working, Prevent is able to recognise and potentially to call out the attempts to undermine the programme, which go beyond legitimate concerns, but are, in fact, tools of the very extremist organisations that would fill many young people and British citizens with the hate and terror that can lead to them going abroad to fight jihad, or, in the worst case, bringing terror on to British streets.

Break in Debate

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:05 p.m.

The House will be relieved to hear that I intend to be even more succinct in my comments on the provisions pertaining to port and border control powers. We have again seen positive movement in this area.

Despite the best efforts of the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) and myself, when the Bill reached the other place it restricted access to a lawyer for those detained under schedule 7. Specifically, it restricted an individual’s right to consult their legal representative in private, away from a relevant officer. As I and other Members have said at every stage of the Bill’s consideration, the ability to speak to a legal representative in private is a fundamental right that should not be infringed. Indeed, as the Minister outlined in oral evidence to the Public Bill Committee, both the Law Society of Scotland and Law Society of England and Wales have reinforced that point. Richard Atkinson stated in evidence that the UK’s criminal justice systems have an excellent reputation but that their very

“cornerstone is legal professional privilege…not access to a lawyer”.––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Public Bill Committee, 26 June 2018; c. 30.]

We therefore very much welcome Lords amendments 12, 15, 35 to 37, 39 and 40, which ensure that that right is protected. Our preference would be for anyone detained under these powers to be able to consult legal representatives of their choosing, but I have heard the Government’s case for the power to require a detainee to consult a different solicitor and, although I would prefer not to have that provision, I completely understand the rationale behind it. I only hope that the power is not abused to ensure lesser representation.

On that note, we also very much welcome amendments 33, 34 and 38, which confirm a detainee’s right to be informed of their rights, which will now be in the Bill rather than simply in the draft code of conduct.

We also welcome Lords amendments 17, 19, 26, 28 and 29—I am not used to having so many Lords amendments, Madam Deputy Speaker. As the hon. Member for Torfaen said, the narrow definition of “hostile act”, so that it is an act that threatens the UK’s economic wellbeing, qualifies only if it

“is relevant to the interests of national security”.

We on the Scottish National party Benches are well known for standing up for civil liberties and human rights, but we do understand that keeping people safe and secure is the primary function of government and fully support our services having the appropriate powers to keep us safe. We therefore support an expedited process for retaining and examining property and confidential material where there is an immediate risk of death or serious injury, or of a hostile act being carried out. That relates to Lords amendments 18, 25, 27 and 30 to 32.

I am sorry to have to mention Brexit so close to the end of our considerations, but it will potentially have a huge impact on the effectiveness of much of this legislation. One of the greatest threats to our national security and counter-terrorism capacity is Brexit and the risk of losing seamless access to multilateral information-sharing tools. Terrorism and organised crime will continue to operate after 29 March without care towards the UK’s membership of the EU—I see that the Minister is delighted by the mention of Brexit. Yet without Europol, Police Scotland will no longer have access to information systems, support and expertise that help make Scotland, the rest of the UK and Europe a safer place. We cannot risk having arrangements that dilute the access that we currently have, and any new arrangements must consider Scotland’s distinctive criminal justice system in order to provide a continuing basis for the direct co-operation that currently exists between law enforcement agencies in Scotland and their counterparts. If we have not made provision to keep our policing effective outside the EU, how can we expect Prevent and everything that has been discussed today to work even after a review?

I thank the hon. Member for Torfaen and the Minister for the manner in which the Bill has been debated throughout its passage and I look forward with joy unconfined to dealing with them again next week on the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:10 p.m.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands). He tempts me to talk about Brexit—[Hon. Members: “Go on!”] In relation to security and counter-terrorism, of course, Madam Deputy Speaker. I share his concerns that that has not been dealt with adequately. The political declaration is far too weak on the subject and that concerns me. If we got that right, it would go much further than the Bill can.

On border security, which the amendments cover, I was slightly amused that some of the points I made on Report, about which the Minister was not happy, had been dealt with in the other place. I pay tribute to my noble Friend Lord Paddick, who, in discussions with the Minister in the other place, clarified a point in the legislation in a very helpful way. I am grateful to the Government for conceding that point. I was concerned about the Bill’s definition of hostile activity to include anything that threatened the United Kingdom’s economic wellbeing. Although I clearly do not want anyone to threaten the United Kingdom’s wellbeing, it seemed a broad and unspecific definition. Some people would say that Brexiteers threatened the United Kingdom’s wellbeing, but I do not want to take that too far because that would be controversial. However, I was pleased that the Government have now qualified the provision with,

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

That may well have been the original intention, but the Bill did not say that. That is why we raised the matter and I am pleased that the Government have seen fit to move on that.

I say gently to the Minister that if we are serious about border security, law is important, but we must have enough Border Force guards. I am worried that we do not have enough people to ensure that our borders are as safe and secure as the House wants. That resource point should not be missed as we legislate.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:12 p.m.

With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will respond.

I am pleased that the hon. Member for Torfaen and I have managed to find a way that accepts his points about ensuring that people have legitimate legal representation, but finds an alternative when the state has concerns that there could be abuse. There will be a code of practice and until it is approved by both Houses, law enforcement officials will not be able to use schedule 3. There will be a public consultation and I am happy to discuss matters with him so that we can ensure that we clarify any further areas about which people may be concerned.

The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) made several points. One reason for discussing hostile state activity is what happened in Salisbury last year. There are hundreds of declared and undeclared foreign intelligence officers in the UK who seek to harm this country. They seek to undermine our values, corrupt our people and our news, carry out espionage and do us serious harm. None could be more serious than what happened in the Salisbury attack, where Novichok, a nerve agent banned by law, was used on our streets. That ended in a tragic death—the murder of a British citizen. That is outrageous and something that we did not really see even in the cold war. We should recognise that while the traditional barriers of the cold war and the 1980s are long gone, even more states are committing hostile acts every day, and we need the powers to deal with that.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Sir Edward Davey Excerpts
Tuesday 11th September 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 3:53 p.m.

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

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

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

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

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 3:55 p.m.

The Minister said a few moments ago that it will be for the prosecution to show that a person does not have a reasonable defence, but that is not what new clause 2 says:

“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.”

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 3:55 p.m.

I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. If a person produces a reasonable defence, as it would play in court, we would have to say, “That is not a valid defence,” and therefore we would have to prove why it is not. In addition, the public interest consideration will be involved when the CPS seeks to bring charges.

It is also important to inform the House that, obviously, reasonable excuses will include those in line with the European convention on human rights, such as access to family, the right to visit and all those things that give people their rights, but we are trying to introduce an important tool to make sure we deal with the scourge of the foreign fighter threat we now face here.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:01 p.m.

We have 400 people in this country who have returned from activity in hotspots, many of whom we believe, from intelligence, have been active, but whom we have been unable to prosecute. That is a serious number of people. A number of them continue to pose a threat, and we have not been able, despite quite a lot of effort and looking, to find evidence to bring to court to prosecute them for the terrorist activity they may have been involved in.

If I was talking about one or two people, it might be a different issue. The French and the Germans have the same problem. It is a growing phenomenon that people are travelling in this world to commit offences. They are tech-savvy; they are capable of sometimes masking some of their behaviour. The grooming that has gone on to seduce people into these locations is a big challenge, and I fear that if we do not legislate, we will not be able to prosecute those people coming back. Do I think the legislation will prosecute hundreds of people? No, I do not, but I think there will be a few people that we can prosecute if they did this. As I said to the shadow Home Secretary yesterday, I recognise that we have introduced this measure into the Bill late, and I apologise for that. However, we are in the Commons, and the Bill will no doubt go to the other place, and I am happy to discuss further how we can clarify it and safeguard it and make sure that it is not abused as a system, and that the reasonable excuse issue is further explored. I think that is appropriate.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:01 p.m.

Can the Minister say where else in British law it is an offence to be located somewhere, rather than to act in a certain way in that place?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:02 p.m.

I would have to speculate; I am not a barrister or lawyer, so I dare not venture down that road. A court may grant an injunction on an area. A stalker often faces injunctions—they are not allowed within 100 metres of a house, and if they go within 100 metres of it, they have committed an offence.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:02 p.m.

Because they have done something wrong.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:02 p.m.

The question was, is there anywhere else in law where going somewhere becomes the offence? There clearly is if someone breaks an injunction. I think there are injunctions not just against someone who has done something wrong, but I shall not pilot off down that course.

As I said earlier, obviously there is the further safeguard that breaching a travel ban and triggering the offence will provide the CPS with a further tool to investigate and prosecute those who return, thereby providing protection. Government amendments 15 to 25 are consequential on new clause 2.

Break in Debate

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:06 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I fully accept the central point that the Minister is making, but he has failed to convince us on the question of proportionality and on the necessity for the new clause. I should also point out that Safaa was not radicalised or groomed by someone who had returned; she was radicalised and groomed by someone overseas. In conclusion, I urge the Minister to commit to this review of the Prevent strategy.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:07 p.m.

Across the House, we share a determination to tackle terrorism. Seventeen years ago today, I was visiting my grandmother. She was watching the television and she showed me what was happening in the appalling attacks in the United States. We in this House also know about the atrocities that happened just 100 yards away on Westminster Bridge recently. So we all want to ensure that we can do whatever we can to keep our people safe and to fight against the scourge of international terrorism. The question tonight, however, is whether the new clause and the new Government amendments will help to protect us. We have seen a huge number of laws added to the statute book, quite rightly, to help us and our security services in the attack that we are making on terrorism and in the fight back, but I am not yet convinced that this new clause and these amendments will add to the successful work that has been going on.

I say to the Minister that I reach that conclusion reluctantly, but I should like to put forward my arguments, because I am not alone in this. Skilled independent commentators have reached a similar judgment to the one that I have reluctantly reached. My first argument in relation to new clause 2 is that it is not needed. Clause 5, with which we agree, will quite rightly expand extraterritorial jurisdiction. We have seen this before, and clause 5 takes those measures further to ensure that terrorist offences committed abroad can be prosecuted in the United Kingdom. That is sensible stuff. New clause 2 wants to go further, however. Rather than being primarily concerned with terrorist acts abroad, it seeks to criminalise the whole concept of going abroad. In other words, it is not about the actions of a person but about locations.

The Minister, in his usual rational way, tried to reassure us that this was not meant to apply to aid workers or journalists, and I presume that it would not apply to people who wanted to visit sick relatives and who might even risk going to a war-torn country to do so. He referred to proposed new subsection 58B(2), which is found in new clause 2, which offers that defence, but the way I read it, the person charged will have to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for entering a designated area. That is not quite what the Minister said at the Dispatch Box, and although I did not intervene at the time, I do not think that people will be innocent until proven guilty, and that should worry the House.

The other issue is one of common sense. If a terrorist or freedom fighter who has returned is accused of going to such an area, they could no doubt make a reasonable excuse defence. They could say that they were an aid worker, and the Government would then still have to prove that they have evidence that the person was doing something wrong and was not an aid worker. I am not absolutely convinced that the Government have got this right, and I will go on to quote the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, who supports my view.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:11 p.m.

There are obviously concerns about new clause 2 that we will have to consider in the other place; it is a shame that it arrived late. As for the idea of the reverse burden, under section 118 of the Terrorism Act 2000 a defendant has to raise it and then it is up to the prosecution to disprove it.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:11 p.m.

I am just going by what the Minister has tabled today.

David Anderson, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said in 2016 of a very similar proposal that

“this offence would not be worthwhile for the UK.”

He also complained about the burden of proof being

“on the honest and worthy to show entry into the prohibited area for a legitimate purpose.”

He said that foreign terrorist fighters

“will also cite aid purposes, so the ultimate burden of proof will still demand evidence not just of presence but also of training, logistical support, or involvement in fighting”

and went on to argue that such activities are of course already covered by the law. He also looked at the practical problems, referring to the fluidity of the

“area controlled by Islamic State (Daesh)”

and how difficult it would be to fix an area in law when the task might be like mapping the shifting sands of time and reality as the space governed by such organisations changes. There are practical problems with this legislation and, like the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, the Liberal Democrats do not think that the Government have made a case for it. We want to ensure that the other place scrutinises the measure given that this House has not been given sufficient time.

Finally, Government amendments 2 and 4 seek to replace their original proposal for obtaining and viewing certain material over the internet—the so-called three-click rule—with a one-click rule and a defence of ignorance about the content of the click. I spoke against the three-click proposal on Second Reading, as did many other Members on both sides of the House, and asked Ministers to go away and think again, but I did not expect them to come up with an even worse proposal. The defence for viewing such material with good cause has actually been reduced, and I am not alone in thinking that. Amnesty International fears that there is a serious risk of a chilling effect on the freedom of inquiry, whether from journalists, academics or researchers.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:13 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman makes the same mistake that the SNP Front-Bench team made. Contrary to narrowing the definition, proposed new subsection (3A) in amendment 4 states:

“The cases in which a person has a reasonable excuse for the purposes of subsection (3) include (but are not limited to) those in which at the time of the person’s action or possession, the person did not know, and had no reason to believe”.

There is no finite list. The legislation is as broad as possible to include a whole range of reasonable excuses, including ones that we have not even thought about.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:15 p.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for trying to clarify the situation, but I will let others in the House read the words on the amendment paper and reach their own conclusions. In my opinion, there is a serious concern that the definition is not wide enough and that there will be, as Amnesty International and others have said, a serious chilling effect on independent inquiry. Let us remember that it is already an offence under legislation introduced by the previous Labour Government to collect or record such information. Anyone behaving in a way to prepare for a terrorist act or to encourage such an act already, rightly, commits an offence, and there is a reason why, under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, viewing material, as opposed to collecting or recording it, was not made an offence—it is called evidence.

Max Hill, the current independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, says:

Break in Debate

John Woodcock Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:24 p.m.

No, I am not giving way. Sit down. Sit down. After that absurd non-point of order, I am not going to give way. The hon. and learned Lady has had her opportunity, and her party has had its opportunity, to set out why they believe that they can actually add to the security of the United Kingdom. They have just summarily failed to do that, as her party, I am afraid, has done over many years in this place.

John Woodcock Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:24 p.m.

I will of course give way to the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and he should know that I have a lot of respect for him. Therefore, I would ask him gently if he would go away and look at the words of David Anderson QC, just two years ago, on an almost identical amendment. That very respected independent reviewer of terrorism legislation said that this type of amendment would not work and was not needed.

John Woodcock Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:27 p.m.

I am of course aware of David Anderson’s views, and I am afraid I simply do not agree with him. Will the measure solve the problem of British citizens being brainwashed into supporting jihad? Clearly, it will not—I will say a little more about the Prevent strategy in a moment—but it is surely a valuable extra tool that has been shown to be severely lacking in the UK’s arsenal in the past few years, given the hundreds of people who have come back from the terror hotspot of Daesh-controlled Iraq and Syria and not been prosecuted.

I will wind up my remarks by talking about Prevent. I heard what the shadow Minister said about the official Opposition’s motion on review, and I have no doubt that those views are sincerely held, but I will not support him on the amendment, if it is pressed to a vote. I agree that Prevent should be continually under review, but I am concerned about the head of steam that has developed, sometimes from my good friends in this place, which has given the impression that there is something fundamentally at fault with Prevent. There are of course those in Muslim communities who question it, but the responsible position for people in this House and beyond is to make the case for the Prevent programme’s valuable work and to highlight the number of people who feel that their lives or the lives of their loved ones have been saved through it.

Ultimately, those who want to discredit Prevent and want it to fail are those who want to give a very different message to our young people. I hope that those on my side of the House—it remains my side of the House, at least—will reflect on the language and tone that they use when describing Prevent.

Break in Debate

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 6:38 p.m.

It is a great pleasure to follow the irrepressible Chair of the Justice Committee, of which I am a member.

Before I discuss access to lawyers under legal professional privilege, it would be churlish of me not to thank the Minister for tabling amendments 6 and 7, versions of which both the shadow Minister and I tabled in Committee. The amendments will essentially ensure that public demonstrations cannot be subject to any financial charge under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. It is vital for our democracy, now more than ever, that the right to assemble, and to do so without charge, is protected.

Without going over the ground covered fairly extensively from the Labour Front Bench, I put it on the record that I share the concerns voiced by the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) about the Northern Ireland border stops and the huge sensitivity of this issue. I genuinely hope that the Minister will look at that, take it away and come back having addressed it.

The Bill as it stands restricts access to a lawyer for those detained under schedule 7. Specifically, it would restrict the right of an individual to consult their legal representative in private, away from a relevant officer. Being able to speak with a legal representative in private is a fundamental right, which should not be infringed. Indeed, in oral evidence, a whole cast of people backed us up. Michael Clancy of the Law Society of Scotland spoke about the fundamental importance when he said:

“If we want people to be in a position where they can freely discuss matters with their legal representatives, we have to preserve this value. It is key to the rule of law that people can discuss matters openly with a legal representatives so that the solicitor, advocate or barrister is in a position to advise properly on what avenues are open to the person. Clearly one would want to ensure that that was adequately protected.”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Public Bill Committee, 26 June 2018; c. 49, Q103.]

Richard Atkinson from the Law Society of England and Wales also raised concerns, suggesting that the proposal risked the excellent reputation across the world of UK justice systems. He said:

“The cornerstone is legal professional privilege. That is not access to a lawyer; it is the confidential nature of discussions between a lawyer and their client. That is the cornerstone that has been in existence for hundreds of years and that is held out internationally as a gold standard that we have in this country. That is what is being undermined by this Bill saying that a police officer can stand and listen to the consultation that is going on between the client and the lawyer.”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Public Bill Committee, 26 June 2018; c. 28, Q63.]

Access to a lawyer—fundamental access to justice—is something we should not compromise on. This is not about constraining the powers of the hard-working men and women who work at our borders; it is acting on the concerns that were expressed to us, to ensure that correct and proper due process is followed.

I suspect that the schedule has been drafted as a result of concerns that lawyers and legal advisers could be exploited and manipulated in some way, as has been outlined. However, as was pointed out, it is not unknown to our criminal justice system; we already have powers in place to deal with such occasions. For example, in code H of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which deals with counter-terrorism cases, if there is a concern about an individual lawyer, 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, so the suspect is not devoid of legal advice. We should protect that access at all costs. I accept that the Government propose the changes with the best of intentions, but we have pointed out that there are ways for it to be done without eliminating or infringing on the basic principle under the rule of law.

I express my support for the Liberal Democrats’ new clause 1, to which I have added my name. One of the greatest threats to our national security currently is, of course, Brexit and the fact that we face losing our seamless access to multilateral information-sharing tools. As we have heard, organised crime and terrorism do not respect borders and it is essential that Police Scotland—in fact, all the police services in the United Kingdom—can access the information systems, support and technical expertise available through Europol, not only to make Scotland safe, but to contribute to making Europe safer. As the hon. Member for Torfaen said, the recent naming of two suspects in the Salisbury incident and the issuing of a European arrest warrant showed just how vital this tool is to protecting the UK from threats, and why it must be maintained.

Following our exit from the EU, there is a major risk that any new arrangements that are put in place will be suboptimal to those at present. Further to that, there is also an issue with data sharing between the UK and the EU, as the EU will most likely require the UK to maintain data protection and privacy laws that can be deemed equivalent to those in force in the EU. We must ensure that our law enforcement agencies can continue to have the same access to Europol as they currently enjoy.

There is also a need to preserve stability in the law. Repealing legislation and preparing new legislation to fill in gaps arising from leaving the EU will compromise a significant part of domestic legislation that is passed at, or following, a withdrawal. Any future arrangements must take into account the autonomy of Scottish criminal justice institutions and provide a continuing basis for the direct co-operation that currently exists between law enforcement agencies in Scotland and their counterparts.

As a matter of security, we cannot afford an operational break in our access to EU cross-border tools, because they are part of the day-to-day work of the police force. Just today, the Lord Advocate of Scotland, giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee, said:

“I don’t think it controversial to observe that leaving that regime without replacing that regime would significantly and adversely affect our capabilities. From a professional criminal justice point of view, the realistic issue is the extent to which this can be mitigated.”

The Government’s dangerous Brexit plans, such as they are, may well leave us outside the European arrest warrant and key agencies such as Europol. I cannot insist enough that that would be incredibly dangerous to the future security of Scotland, the United Kingdom and, potentially, the EU. We must be able to share vital information to keep people safe from terrorism, human trafficking and organised crime. Leaving the European arrest warrant is yet another potentially disastrous Brexit bonus that we could all do without. I wholeheartedly support new clause 1.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 6:45 p.m.

I rise partly because I have been encouraged by the speech made by the Chair of the Select Committee, the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill). He made the point that this issue is central to the Brexit negotiations, so the House is grateful to the Labour Front Benchers for tabling new clause 1. I also rise because although the Government wish to sign up to some new security deal and the Minister understands the importance of the European arrest warrant, there can be no doubt that these tools are at risk. Given how significant they are, not only for the fight against terrorism, but for the fight against some of the most serious criminals in our world, many people are deeply worried.

The Government have continually made the argument—I have some sympathy with it—that the other members of the European Union will want to work with us because we have some of the best security services in the world. That is undoubtedly the case. I visited Europol and Eurojust in the Hague. When I talked with the then executive director of Europol, Rob Wainwright—he has now left and been replaced by Catherine de Bolle—he made it clear that the UK was at the heart of this crime-catching set of tools and instruments. It was clear from that and the work of the Select Committee and others who have delved into the issue that co-operation has become central to our activities to tackle criminals, whether that is organised crime, terrorists or others. If that is put at risk at any level, it should worry the House greatly.

It may be—I suspect it will be—that there is a deal on some of the most serious crimes. I would imagine that our European friends will want to co-operate with us against terrorists and other people who seek to commit mass murder. Of course they will want that co-operation, and I wish the Government well in achieving that goal. That is why it is good to see new clause 1, but I say to the Minister that there is a whole range of other serious offences that Europol, Eurojust, the European arrest warrant and the various data-sharing systems enable our forces to use. I am not yet convinced that Europeans are going to gladly throw all those open to us. There is certainly an incentive when it comes to terrorism and mass murder, but what about financial fraud? When I was at Europol, it was pretty clear that a lot of its resources were going after financial fraud in the capitals of the European Union and beyond—in Switzerland and elsewhere. I am not so sure we will be let in on that major issue, which is of crucial importance to the British economy.

If we go down the list of activities that Europol does on a day-to-day basis, it is not clear that the incentives for the Europeans to co-operate with us are as great as they are on terrorism. I am deeply troubled, because we need to deepen co-operation in tackling these organised criminals. The Government do not quite understand how these European organisations work. When Rob Wainwright, an ex-MI6 agent, was there, Britain was leading the operation at Europol. We will no longer be leading that operation, and that means a big loss of influence. We will not be in the room.

I went to Eurojust, and I saw the one floor of the office block in the Hague where it has one delegate from each country. They sit and work together to help each other deal with the different issues with criminals crossing jurisdictions, whether they are warrants for tracking mobile phones or other legal necessities required to conduct an investigation and, in some cases, a chase. They were clear that they had to be in that room, in that building. Where will the UK delegate to Eurojust be? I think that they will be outside. Furthermore, given the Government’s red line on the European Court of Justice, one really feels that the Europeans will be slightly less flexible on many aspects of these crime- fighting tools. I know that we are rightly focusing on terrorism today, but these other aspects of security link into that. The Government need to work much harder than I have seen so far to make sure that we are fully signed up members of absolutely everything and that the Europeans have an incentive to include us in on everything.

Finally, other Members have mentioned Northern Ireland. It is absolutely clear that the use of the European arrest warrant to tackle terrorists who go across the borders there is an essential tool, and it is right at the top of the concerns of the PSNI and the Garda. Whatever the scenario in the future—whether it is a no deal and a crash-out, or some other cobbled-together deal—the real concern is the European arrest warrant and whether it will operate on all these issues. I am talking about not just on suspected terrorism, but on suspected fraud and smuggling from where the terrorist organisations get their money.

Ensuring that we get the European arrest warrant sorted out in these negotiations on terrorism and on other offences could not be more important for the security of the British people. I wish the Minister and his colleagues well on this, but the Opposition are absolutely right to press this point. This could not be more central to the security of our country.

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 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.

Break in Debate

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 been 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.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 11:30 a.m.

May I take the Minister back to the point about spies from other countries and people from other security forces, whether from Russia or elsewhere? In my time in government when I was occasionally asked, as a member of the National Security Council, to sign off warrants so that the security services could search bags, tap phones and so on—even at very short notice—it was clear to me that we had powers, if we had suspicions, to do everything required to track, trace and examine the people coming into this country with hostile intent from foreign powers, and we did that on a regular basis. Will he just explain to me why the new powers are needed, given that we already have a panoply of powers?

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 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 to examine it.

Break in Debate

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:35 p.m.

I appreciate that.

The Minister himself, despite the late tabling of new clause 2, has been open to improvements suggested by the Opposition, and I thank him also.

The SNP supports the Government in their attempt to modernise this crucially important legislation, and we appreciate the need to combat the constantly evolving threat from international terrorism in the modern digital world, but we must be extremely careful about how this is executed. We are fully aware of the challenges that we face from increasingly sophisticated criminals and terrorists, and we are in favour of giving law enforcement agencies and the security and intelligence agencies the powers they require to keep our communities safe, but those powers must be subject to stringent checks and safeguards if we are to maintain the balance of security and civil liberties that we currently enjoy.

While stressing that we support the Government’s aims, I remind the Minister that they have awarded themselves, and the police and security services, an enormous amount of power in the last three years, not only—potentially—in this Bill, but in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and the Immigration Act 2016, to name but two. Sadly, more often than not the Government have simply not got the balance right between civil liberties and the extension of intrusive powers.

If Scotland were independent—and that time is coming—we would no doubt be drafting and enacting more legislation to deal with the increased threat of terrorism. Luckily, that legislation would not be drafted by me, but I cannot help wondering how similar our measures would be. I should like to think—in fact, I am positive—that we would ensure that our Ministers, our police and our security services had the necessary powers, without impinging too much on civil liberties. That, I am sorry to say, often seems to be an afterthought in the case of this Government.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:36 p.m.

In his opening remarks, the Minister rightly reminded us of the terrorist outrages that have been inflicted on our country and our people. The response to those outrages brings the whole House together, and I know that the Minister and his colleagues do their very best, along with the skilled people in the security services, to keep us safe on a daily basis.

On Second Reading, I explained to the Minister why I had some concerns about individual measures in the Bill. The Liberal Democrats wanted to see whether or not they would pass through the House and emerge in a better form. I have to say that in our view, regrettably, the Bill has not improved as a result of that scrutiny, and if anything, it has got worse. I will not rehearse what I said on Report, but I will say that my criticisms referred to the comments of independent experts—independent reviewers of counter-terrorism legislation—and were not made in the absence of any evidence.

There are, of course, some good parts of the Bill. Clause 5, which extends extra-territorial jurisdiction, is very welcome, as is clause 19, which deals with terrorism reinsurance and which I discussed on Second Reading. Those welcome measures, however, have been packaged with a collection of ill-thought-through measures that will not work: they will not do what they promise to do. In its report, the Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that

“some of these offences risk a disproportionate interference with the right to privacy, the right to freedom of thought and belief, and the right to freedom of expression.”

The Committee—a Committee of both Houses—warned us that the Bill

“strikes the wrong balance between security and liberty”

and doubted its compliance with the European convention on human rights.

My list of things that are wrong with the Bill has grown since Second Reading, and the more I have looked at those items, the more my concern about some of them has deepened. Clause 1, for instance, expands the offence of inviting support for a proscribed organisation to recklessly expressing support for such an organisation. I was too kind about that on Second Reading. I argued that the concept of recklessness already exists in criminal law in respect of physical actions and physical violence, but even in that context it is controversial, given the different legal versions of what “recklessness” actually means in respect of physical actions. How much more subjective is “recklessness” when applied to speech? Ministers have failed to defend this extension, and I think that they are in serious danger of criminalising innocent people and the naive.

Given that this is a Third Reading debate, I will not rehearse many of the other problems with the Bill, but I do want to end on one particular problem that I failed to mention on Second Reading. It relates to the border security powers we briefly discussed in the last part of our debate. What the Bill says in schedule 3 is quite chilling. It gives a lot of power to state officials, which goes beyond anything I have ever seen before. I refer what the Bill says to colleagues, because this is what they are voting on tonight. In giving powers to border security guards to stop, question and detain, the Bill does not require them to justify that at any level. It states:

“An examining officer may exercise the powers under this paragraph whether or not there are grounds for suspecting that a person is or has been engaged in hostile activity.”

It says “whether or not”; not “if” there are grounds for suspecting, but “whether or not”.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

As I said earlier, these are just mirrors of the powers that have been in force since 2000. When over subsequent years the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the National Security Council in the last coalition Government did he use his senior position in the Government to seek, as this power is so unjust, and “chilling” as he says, to undo it? Will he also please reflect on this? I read the Joint Committee on Human Rights report, and there was one flaw in it: it did not take evidence from the police, the intelligence services or victims. It took evidence from Cage and other such groups, but I think its duty was to be balanced. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will reflect on his time in government.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard

I am happy to reflect on that. As I said to the Minister in an earlier intervention, as a member of the NSC, I was often asked to sign warrants to go after some of the most wicked people and in each case I was impressed by our security services and the systems of accountability. I signed every single warrant put before me because it was very clear that the powers were proportionate and justified. I am arguing tonight that the Government are going further. I do not think it is in the traditions of British justice that we give carte blanche powers to the border security guards, and if other Opposition Members were to read this provision in detail, I do not think they would be as comfortable as they are being lured into being.

I urge colleagues even at this late hour to actually read this part of the Bill, as I think we are in danger of losing our attachment to reason. That is a dangerous position in this very important Chamber. I hope that if some of us stand up tonight and say, “These powers are overreaching,” we can send a signal to the other place that it can do its job and scrutinise this legislation in ever more depth.

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:44 p.m.

I welcome the Government’s attempt to use this Bill to close the terror insurance loophole, with the two provisos already mentioned, but there are other concerns that have not been addressed. Even if terror insurance now covers non-physical damage, the take-up of terror insurance covers only about 2.5% of UK businesses, and the Government have not addressed how to boost take-up and ensure greater coverage.

I thank the Minister for his letter, which I received today. It addresses two further issues. First, it is good that certification will be sped up, but there is no detail in the letter as to how that will be done. Secondly, there is no detail in it about how the potential for legislation to become out of date again will be addressed other than through a vague assurance. I hope that more detail will be provided in the other place.

The Bill was an opportunity to address the fact that some seek to take profits out of public generosity and public support when terror attacks occur. Sadly, giving only half a million pounds in profits, above admin costs, in the last year alone for Grenfell, Manchester and the London Bridge and Borough market attacks is appalling. That is pickpocketing from the victims of terror and it should have been addressed here. I hope the Government will look at this again before the Bill reaches the House of Lords.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
(Money resolution: House of Commons)
Sir Edward Davey Excerpts
Monday 11th June 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 6:03 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes another good point in this debate. He is right to say that many leading internet organisations were not searching for proscribed organisations, or certainly not for all of them. So far this year, however, there has certainly been a significant improvement. We are monitoring this ourselves, and we are in constant dialogue with those companies. I am not going to pretend that every single one of them is doing that now, but there has been a huge improvement.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 6:04 p.m.

I am slightly confused about the Government’s direction of travel. I think that there is quite widespread support across the House for action against the people publishing this material, to get it before it is put up. The Government are clearly looking at that, and if they come forward with such measures, they would be welcomed. However, the Home Secretary has said of the provisions in the Bill that the Government are not sure that the three clicks approach is right because it could catch innocent people. Is it not more advisable to focus on what would actually work, solve the problem at the root cause and get support from across the House?

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 6:04 p.m.

To be absolutely clear, what the right hon. Gentleman referred to as the three clicks approach—let us call it the multiple viewing approach—is absolutely the right one, which is why it is in the Bill. From the discussions that I and the Minister for Security and Economic Crime have already had with colleagues on both sides of the House, I think that it commands a wide body of support in the House, and that will of course be tested during the passage of the Bill.

The wider issues of internet regulation—those applying not just to terrorist content, but to child sexual exploitation, serious violence, gang violence and such offences—and the collective harms of some internet content are together being looked at by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, and I believe that a consultation is going on at the moment. That is the right place to look at those issues, because the kind of regulation mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman is not covered by the Bill.

Break in Debate

Sir John Hayes Portrait Mr Hayes - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 6:40 p.m.

The Irish people endured the horror of terrorism for a very long time, and we should not be complacent about any part of our kingdom, but there are differences with what we face now, which I have already mentioned and others will no doubt elaborate upon during the debate.

Before coming to the end of this brief speech—certainly brief by my standards—I want to deal with Prevent. I worked with Prevent and I will mention two things that the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said with which I fully agree and then I will deal with the things I did not agree with, as that is the polite thing to do. She is absolutely right about radicalisation in prisons. No Government have got this right. In a previous incarnation, I was the Minister responsible for prison education, would you believe? It is not an easy job, I can tell you, and I was never really satisfied that we got it right. I do not think the previous Government got it right either. This is not about party politics. We probably need to look at it afresh. I agree with her about that.

It is, in my view, a good thing, by and large, to keep people who do dreadful things in prison for longer, but the right hon. Lady is quite right that if we are keeping them in prison ever longer, and given the serious chance that they will be radicalised accordingly, there is a risk that they might do a degree in being radicalised, rather than just an A-level. I am inclined to her view that we need to look at that with even greater determination than in the past. With this Home Secretary and this Security Minister, we have the best chance ever of bringing fresh eyes to this. Proust, I think, said that there was no such thing as “new landscapes”, only “new eyes” to see them. Perhaps, in a Proustian fashion, they will look at the right hon. Lady’s suggestion.

The second thing I agree with the right hon. Lady about is the need to ensure that there is proper oversight of Prevent and that we measure its effect properly. When I was Minister, I revitalised the oversight board in the Home Office—I am sure that my successor has added even greater value than I could have hoped to add in that respect—and I was also determined to measure the effect of Prevent more routinely and more transparently.

None the less, I disagree with her about Prevent as a concept. The work of our Prevent co-ordinators, at the very frontline of radicalisation, is heroic. I met them time and again all over country. I went around the country to see the Channel operation and the Channel panels. The people who contribute to Channel and who co-ordinate and run Prevent are doing immensely good work in very difficult circumstances. I do not say that they always get it right—perhaps they do not—but I do say that without them the circumstances we face would be altogether worse. They are making a huge difference in towns and cities across the country day by day. I celebrate their achievements while never being uncritical, as in my comments on measurement and oversight.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 6:44 p.m.

Did the right hon. Gentleman meet any representatives from Muslim communities who perceived it to be a flawed scheme?

Sir John Hayes Portrait Mr Hayes - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 6:45 p.m.

There is an argument about how Prevent is perceived and how communities in which the co-ordinators operate understand it, and, consequently, there is an argument for promoting it more effectively—I will meet the right hon. Gentleman halfway—but do not forget that some of the critics of Prevent are people who do not want it to work. Some of its critics are critics because they do not believe in what we are trying to achieve. We have to start from the perspective that not everyone is a balanced and reasoned critic, and perceptions are, to some extent, coloured by that. I introduced the Prevent duty when I was the Minister so that local authorities, health authorities, schools, colleges and others could add value to Prevent by identifying those most at risk. Let us be clear: these are people at risk of being groomed to do wicked things.

With that and to give others a chance to speak far more persuasively than I could ever hope to do, I end by saying that our will to combat terrorism must never falter, our resolve never waver. This House must have the same kind of certain confidence as our security services and police have in their certain determination—their mission—to defeat terrorism.

Break in Debate

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con) - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 6:59 p.m.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands).

We meet in the shadow of a grim situation for our country. As the shadow Home Secretary said, in 2017, 36 people were killed and, since 2013 alone, some 25 terrorist plots have been foiled. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my constituents at GCHQ, who through their hard work, dedication and professionalism have, I feel sure, contributed to the foiling of a good number of those plots both in the UK and overseas.

I entirely support the Bill, but it is absolutely right, and the duty of the Opposition and all Back Benchers, to scrutinise these matters with great care. I sense the same spirit in this House this evening as there was when it dealt with the Investigatory Powers Act 2016: a spirit of constructive discussion, and at times criticism, to ensure that the provisions we arrive at strike the balance between liberty and security. I remember being in the House listening to discussions on the Investigatory Powers Bill. I am entirely sure that the end statute was better for the process of debate that took place in this House.

I want to examine some of the provisions in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill and explain why it is appropriate. In simple terms, the Bill serves to clarify existing measures, to extend in a common-sense way their provisions, and in appropriate circumstances to modestly strengthen penalties. I will deal with those three headings and explain why in my view the provisions are justified.

The Bill seeks to

“clarify that the existing offence of displaying in a public place an image which arouses reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation covers the display of images online”

as well as in the analogue world. That is appropriate. It clarifies the position and for the position to be otherwise would make a nonsense of the digital world we are in, so I anticipate that that will not be controversial in Committee.

However, I want to deal with the point raised by the shadow Home Secretary about extending the offence of inviting support for a proscribed organisation to cover expressions of support that are reckless as to whether they will encourage others to support the organisation. The concern has been raised that moving the mens rea from intention to mere recklessness risks broadening the ambit of the offence too greatly. It is absolutely right to have this discussion because it would be a matter of grave concern if we inadvertently broadened an offence so that it unintentionally caught people within it that we were not comfortable being caught within it. Having thought about it, however, my view is this provision is on the right side of the line and I will explain why.

Let us suppose the facts were as follows. The defendant deliberately went to his friend’s house from school and said, “I really think you should be joining this proscribed organisation”—be it Isis or al-Muhajiroun—and his intention was to get that individual to sign up, but in the room at the same time was his friend’s younger brother, aged 16, and he was not in any way intending for that younger brother to be radicalised but was being reckless as to whether that would happen. In those circumstances, if the message was in fact heard by the younger brother rather than the contemporary friend, should the law have this loophole so that the defendant could not be liable in those circumstances? That would be nonsense. It would create an unconscionable loophole because the mischief at which the legislation is aimed is the propagating of propaganda material that encourages others to support proscribed organisations.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 6:59 p.m.

I agree that we should be debating these issues, but can the hon. Gentleman point to anywhere in case law where there is real development of the concept of recklessness compared with the concept of intentionality?

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 7:07 p.m.

That is pretty much everywhere, and I will give the right hon. Gentleman an example. How about an allegation of assault? Let us suppose the defendant goes out in the high street in Kingston in the right hon. Gentleman’s constituency with a baseball bat and starts swinging it around outside the pub, being reckless about whether someone might be struck by it. If he does recklessly strike someone’s jaw and they have a fractured jaw, the defendant can, and will in those circumstances, be convicted of a section 20 offence of grievous bodily harm. So the law does recognise that where there is recklessness, that can be sufficient mens rea for a large number—probably even the majority—of offences against the person. So to that extent all this measure would do is make sure the new legislation chimes with existing legislation.

The second provision I want to deal with has already properly been discussed: to

“update the offence of obtaining information likely to be useful to a terrorist to cover terrorist material that is just viewed or streamed over the internet, rather than downloaded to form a permanent record”.

First, we need to consider what material is being addressed here. It could be digital copies of “Inspire”, an online publication produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. One edition of that publication contains material giving instructions about how to make a bomb using household materials; these are step-by-step instructions on how to manufacture an improvised explosive device with materials that we could buy in a hardware store and a regular supermarket. That is extremely serious and dangerous material if it gets into the wrong hands. Another example of the kind of material published in these online magazines is instructions on how to wreak the maximum amount of destruction using a vehicle in a crowded area.

To be caught by current provisions, such material has to be downloaded, but that creates a loophole because an individual who chooses to view this pernicious content by simply restreaming it could be outside the net. That would be ridiculous, particularly as every time one of these items is streamed, it will create digital artefacts on the computer. So an individual who downloads it—who has the full digital content on their computer—is liable to be prosecuted, but an individual who keeps streaming it, notwithstanding that that leads to some digital artefacts on their computer, would be outside the net. That would be truly perverse.

So while it is right to say that we should be mindful of the risk of people coming within the ambit of this provision, so long as the defence of reasonable excuse exists, we can be confident that that proper balance is struck.

Break in Debate

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 8:10 p.m.

It is a pleasure to be called to speak in this debate and particularly to follow the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock), who made a thought-provoking speech. It was certainly interesting to hear references to one or two of his party’s Front Benchers, although it is probably better that I focus on the substance of the debate than on whether I agree with his comments.

It is important to discuss how to ensure that those who actively set out to support terrorists and organisations that wish to destroy democracy, rather than to engage in debate and democracy, feel the force of the criminal law. I am pleased that this Bill will update the legislation to reflect the fact that we are now in the internet era. However, we must temper this with ensuring that nobody can innocently fall foul of the offences. That can be considered in detail in Committee. I was reassured to hear the Home Secretary’s responses to a number of interventions on this point. He said that there will almost certainly be a reasonable excuse defence for those who might stumble on material or for those who might be engaged in research that we would want them to do and that is not connected to another intention.

I am conscious that these definitions need to be drawn fairly tightly to ensure that we do not create a loophole that could be used by someone just claiming that they were engaging in research. For example, we would need them actively to show that they were part of a recognised research project. I am sure that we can sensibly work out such matters when we discuss the Bill in detail. We must always ensure that our intention is clear in the legislation that we pass, rather than hoping that the courts will listen to what we have said. It is the wording of the legislation that courts will ultimately consider when making decisions about any defence.

I am very pleased with what I have heard. It is right that we end the position whereby the law is not necessarily brought into effect by people streaming material, especially given the explosion—figuratively, not literally—of available sources. People can now stream video to their mobile devices in particular, whereas they would have downloaded material from sharing sites in the past. It is also appropriate that the protections are in place to ensure that nobody is innocently caught by such offences.

It is appropriate that more significant sentences are available to the courts for the offences listed in the Bill. Those who are looking to take part in plots to cause significant loss of life should know about the sentencing powers available to the courts and that those powers will actually be used. I was particularly interested to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) mention the possible sentence for someone who pleads guilty. This legislation is not just about everyone getting the maximum sentence, which is very unlikely to happen, but it will raise the bar for each person convicted or pleading guilty to such offences and ensure that they get time in prison that is commensurate with their offence, time in which it might also be possible for prisons to do useful work with them to turn them away from an extremist path.

We have debated Prevent. Ultimately, the motivation behind this type of behaviour does not matter. It could be the politics of the extreme left or right, or a totally perverted interpretation of a religion. I must be clear that in such cases of extremism or terrorism, the interpretation of the religion is always a perverted one. No religion genuinely backs the actions of extremists walking into a concert and blowing themselves up among women and children who are just enjoying the evening. We need provisions in place to turn people away from that path.

I have certainly found it interesting to listen to this debate. The public are clear that there should be increased sentencing provisions to allow the courts to deal with those who commit such offences. We have seen many stories over the past few years. In particular, I look back at the events of a year ago, when those who were hoping to use terror attacks to deflect from the general election campaign attacked innocent civilians. They hoped that they would somehow terrorise people to change policy or elect people to this place who might not agree with tackling such issues. In fact, all they did was strengthen the resolve of those of us who are democrats, as happened when this Parliament and its Members—some of whom are commemorated on the walls of this very Chamber—were under attack in the past. We were not deflected from our confidence in democracy then, and we will not be deflected in the 21st century from tackling those who wish to destroy democracy. We will ensure that those who believe that they can express views with impunity online that they would never think of expressing in another public forum know that the law will catch up with them.

Members have discussed the retention of materials, particularly fingerprints, as the shadow Home Secretary picked up on the point regarding biometric details. This issue clearly needs further detailed scrutiny and debate. I think that we would all say that there are legitimate intelligence grounds for the police keeping such details following an arrest in circumstances where particular conditions are met. We would not say that details should be destroyed immediately merely because an offence was not proceeded with. I accept that this needs to be balanced with the fact that those who are wholly innocent should not think that their data will always be on a database. For example, there may be a case of mistaken identity that leads to an arrest, or a piece of intelligence may be found leading to the discovery that someone is not, or is unlikely to be, guilty of an offence. It will be interesting to explore how this balance can struck in more detail in Committee. Clearly, it would not be sensible to throw away potentially valuable evidence that might at a later stage allow us to proceed on an offence, to prevent the commission of a further offence, or simply to identify someone. Again, we have to balance that against rights. The principle is right and the overall thrust of the Bill is correct in this matter, but we could explore it in more detail in Committee and on Report.

Overall, the Bill is timely. The threats against this country are growing—not just from non-state actors such as Daesh, but from rogue state actors who seek to engage in behaviour that few of us would have thought likely even a few years ago. The use of chemical weapons against two people on our soil would have been unimaginable only a decade ago. It is therefore right that our legislation is kept fully up to date. The Bill will allow the House and Parliament as a whole to review the legislation, look at it in more depth and produce an Act of Parliament that is firmly rooted in the digital era. In the past, we would have been talking about people displaying flags in public places as our main worry. Now it is about what people are displaying online, particularly under a false flag of a fake digital identity.

This has been a useful debate. I look forward to seeing the Bill progress. It has my support. It has been encouraging to hear the views from across the House that indicate that it is likely to receive cross-party support at this stage, subject to the further debate that we can have only by giving the Bill its Second Reading today.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 8:19 p.m.

I come to this debate wanting to be positive about attempts by the Government to give our police and security forces the powers that they need in the fight against terrorism and to balance that with the equal priority of ensuring that we do not hit our civil liberties and therefore give the terrorists a victory. Already we have heard how different aspects of this Bill will be judged by those tests.

No one who witnessed the horrors in London and Manchester last year can be in any doubt that we need to redouble our efforts to protect the public. The evidence is clear, and the terrorist threat across the UK remains severe. With that threat morphing into a diverse range of threats, including people acting alone, and with the numbers involved increasing, if anything, the terrorist threat for our security forces and the police is probably the most difficult it has ever been.

Liberal Democrats will not, at this early stage, seek to oppose this Bill, but Ministers and those watching this debate should not take that as agreement, in full or in part, to these proposed laws. We need to scrutinise the Bill to make sure that we get the balance right. It is already clear from this debate that there are serious questions whether some of these proposed laws are necessary, whether they are properly based on sound evidence and whether there are sufficient safeguards to prevent their being abused against totally innocent citizens. The Government may have a job in persuading this House and the other place that these measures should pass totally unamended in the form that we see them tonight.

In considering yet another piece of terrorism legislation, the House should recall the opinion of the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill, when he was appointed just over a year ago. He said that he thought that the UK had sufficient offences in the fight against terrorism and that we did not need any more. In a speech in October last year, he said:

“I would suggest that our legislators have provided for just about every descriptive action in relation to terrorism, so we should pause before rushing to add yet more offences to the already long list.”

In his early comments on this Bill, he has gone on to say that

“the Counter-Terrorism Bill does not contain a single new terrorist offence.”

This assessment may seem at odds with what Ministers have sought to persuade the House that they are doing and with complaints by organisations such as Liberty. How Max Hill squares this circle is quite important. He believes that the Bill is only clarifying what is meant by existing offences. Let us see in debate whether it is simply a clarification or whether we are creating new offences.

Clause 3, which is about obtaining or viewing material over the internet, brings in the three click rule that we talked about earlier. The question for the House is whether we think that the line between committing a criminal offence punishable by years in prison is one extra click of a mouse, such that someone moves from innocent at two clicks to guilty at three. There is good reason for the House to scrutinise this, because it is about the intention behind the clicks as opposed to the clicks themselves.

On one level, it might seem reasonable to question the motives of someone who continually looks at violence and hate-inciting material. But what if the intention of that person was never one of pursuing actual terrorism? Perhaps they were a journalist; we have heard that there are protections for journalists. What if the person was so shocked and appalled by the material that they were drawn to look at it again, in their disapproval? We need to make sure that genuinely innocent people are not caught. I was quite pleased by the way that the Home Secretary responded to that point, because it did appear that he was open to genuine scrutiny of it. That is very welcome.

We need to make sure that we abide by the normal ways in which we approach free speech. We usually criminalise free speech only if there is an intention to promote harm, violence and hatred, or to carry out terrorist acts as a result of viewing the material. There is potentially a danger that this proposal crosses a line, so we need to look at it in detail.

In my early reading of these proposals, I have had a few other concerns. The hon. Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster) talked about how important biometric data can be, and he is absolutely right. However—he touched on this in a very thoughtful speech—there are issues of innocent people’s biometric data being retained, such as people who have never committed a crime or people who have been unlawfully or wrongly arrested. Should their DNA—their biometric data—be kept by the police? Possibly for a short period, but what will be the rules on checking that their civil liberties and rights are not constrained and that that biometric data is disposed of in a correct and verifiable way when it is clear that they have nothing to do with any such crimes?

I am not just worried about civil liberties in this regard; I am also worried about the impact on the Government’s negotiations for an EU-UK security partnership should Brexit actually happen. Ministers will know, whether from debates over the general data protection regulation or recent European Court of Justice rulings, that the UK may struggle to get an adequacy agreement from the Commission. The recent immigration data exemption from data rights such as subject access requests are very likely—rightly, to my mind—to be sounding alarm bells at the Commission. Yet it is super-vital to our fight against terrorism and against organised crime, vital for this country’s security, that the data flows between the UK and the rest of the EU, whether the data relates to the work of Europol, Prüm, ECRIS—the European criminal records information system—or the Schengen information system II. I am not sure whether the Government, with all the different things they are doing in this area, are presenting a very strong case to our EU colleagues. Will keeping the DNA of innocent EU citizens help our case for an adequacy agreement? Will the Minister say whether an assessment has been made of how this Bill will affect the UK’s chances of securing this vital adequacy agreement, so that we can keep those data flows going to get these wicked people?

My concern about safeguards relates to the way in which the Home Office often operates. In Westminster Hall this coming Wednesday, there will be a debate about section 22, paragraph 5 of the immigration rules, whereby they are used to refuse leave to remain in this country on the basis that the applicant is somehow a threat to national security. This immigration rule has been used when applicants have committed minor tax offences—conduct that was not foreseen when Parliament gave the Home Office these powers. When we debate new rules and new powers for officials, we have to make sure that there are safeguards so that they are not used for unintended purposes.

Let me move on to the Contest, or Prevent, strategy. The Home Secretary seemed rather complacent that all was well with this strategy. When we look at the perception and experience of some people, we might think that expanding referral rights to local authorities seems a terribly modest measure—I know that the Security Minister thinks so—but the question is, how it will be perceived? Although I am sure that the Minister believes that the measure is harmless, if it is based on the assumption that there are many communities out there who think that Prevent is fine, that is an incorrect assumption. For many communities, rightly or wrongly, Prevent is a flawed programme. As I said to the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), this may be a matter of perception.

I absolutely accept that there are many successful individual projects and areas of work within the Prevent programme. No one can deny that. However, a long list of organisations inside and outside this House have pointed to how Prevent has alienated at least some communities. We should think about that before we act. The Home Affairs Committee has warned about this, as have the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the National Union of Teachers, Muslim community associations and the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. All these people have expressed worries about how the Prevent programme is seen. Given those widely held concerns, I am surprised that the Government are choosing this moment to expand the programme.

Surely it would be far better to restore confidence and trust before involving people’s local council. Many of us would support an independent review of the Prevent strategy, as the shadow Home Secretary said, and I hoped that the Government’s Commission for Countering Extremism might lead on that. I hope that the Government will reflect on that matter further before pursuing it.

There are clauses in the Bill that one really welcomes, such as clause 19, through which the Government are attempting to improve the system of insurance against terrorist acts. We have heard other Members comment on that. I want the Minister to look specifically at the problems that small businesses and larger businesses involved in hiring and leasing vans and cars are getting into. This is a real concern for them, and I know they are lobbying the Treasury on it. After relatively recent changes in the law, those businesses face unlimited liability if the person who rented or leased a van goes on to use it to commit a terrorist act. Because of the unlimited liability, those businesses’ insurers are saying, “We’re not going to insure you.” If a whole sector is hit because it cannot get insurance, that is a huge problem for our whole economy and society. There may be industry and private sector solutions—I am told that there may be a mutual arrangement in the sector—but if that does not work out, the Bill may be a vehicle to tackle that problem, so that terrorists cannot undermine our economy indirectly in that way.

The last measures I would like to talk about are clauses 1 and 2. As we have heard, clause 1 extends the existing offence of inviting support for a proscribed organisation, so that a person commits that offence if they show support for a proscribed organisation and are reckless in that expression of support. I intervened on the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) on the issue of recklessness, but he may have misunderstood me; he is not in his place, so he cannot respond. Clearly the concept of recklessness exists in law at the moment and is used particularly in relation to the actions that he cited. However, even judging whether people have behaved recklessly in physical acts of violence is pretty controversial, because it is not seen as terribly objective. Different interpretations of recklessness in relation to physical violence—the Caldwell and Cunningham versions—have been found by the courts. That test is much more difficult when applied to speech. If it is subjective with respect to actions, its subjectivity in terms of speech and the impact of that speech on other people seems very difficult to measure. We will have to look at that in some detail.

Clause 2 relates to how clothing might be linked to a proscribed organisation. My concern is how general the clause is. The Minister will know that there are 88 proscribed organisations. I think all of us would be extremely worried if people were going around with flags and encouraging people to join some of those organisations, but when was that list last looked at?

I will give one example from Sri Lanka that may be controversial among some Members. I think the last Labour Government were wrong to proscribe the LTTE, or the Tamil Tigers. It has committed some horrific acts and atrocities—there is no doubt about that—but it was involved in what many people regard as a civil war. In this country there are British Tamils who have become refugees and Sri Lankan asylum seekers who support the aims of the Tamil Tigers, but not its methods, and for them, it is a political movement. I have met young Tamils living in the UK who wear T-shirts bearing one of the emblems of the Tamil Tigers, which is a roaring tiger head with two rifles. I have refused their kind offer of such a T-shirt and have not worn one, but I do not think their offer of a T-shirt should be punishable by a prison term. Does the Minister think that wearing such a T-shirt of a proscribed organisation will result in the arrest of those people? Will individuals wearing clothing with Tamil Tiger emblems put their liberty in danger if the Bill is passed?

Those are the sorts of question we will have to subject the Bill to as it is debated. I know the Minister is a reasonable and thoughtful man who will want to avoid unintended consequences and injustices, and perhaps he will be able to satisfy us on the concerns we have raised this evening.

In concluding, I would simply like to quote from a letter to The Times last year signed by leaders of the legal professions and organisations such as Liberty and JUSTICE. They wrote:

“Suggestions made before the general election, that human rights prevent the police fighting terrorism, are misguided…Human rights exist to protect us all. Weakening human rights laws will not make us safer. Terrorists cannot take away our freedoms—and we must not do so ourselves.”

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Portrait Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con) - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 8:34 p.m.

Thank you for allowing me to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker. As this is the first speech I have made in the House since your colleague, the right hon. Member for Epping Forest (Dame Eleanor Laing), received her damehood, may I, in her absence from the Chair, pay tribute to her?

There is nothing more important or more serious for this House to discuss than terrorist issues, because the terrorist seeks to destroy the fundamental rights enshrined in democracy by undemocratic means, which we must do all in our power to prevent.

Before I get on to the Bill, I want to address the comments made by the hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson). I totally take to heart what he said about the glorification of terrorist acts once they are, as it is called, time-expired. If I were a member of a family who had lost victims in terrorist incidents, I would feel utterly sick, and I hope that he will succeed in his aim of somehow amending the Bill to prohibit that practice. In saying that, I take to heart what he said about excesses by our military, but I think we owe it to the military—I do not suppose that this will form part of the Bill—to limit the time when a member of our armed forces can be prosecuted for events that took place while serving in a military campaign, including in Northern Ireland. I hope that the Government will somehow find a way to do that before too long.

As I mentioned in an intervention earlier, this debate takes place in the atmosphere that was described by Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5. On 17 October 2017, in a rare public speech by such an official, he described the ongoing terrorist threat as

“multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly, and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen”

from such threats. Indeed, in the year ending 31 December 2017, there were 412 arrests for terrorism-related offences in Great Britain, an increase of 58% on the 261 arrests in the previous year.

In his speech earlier, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said there have been 25 Islamic attacks since 2013, including four external plots since the Westminster atrocities. I therefore want to pay a sincere tribute to the police and the security and intelligence services, who often put their lives at risk in very difficult and dangerous circumstances to keep us all safe, and they do a terrific job. As if that were not enough, we then had the horrific attack on Yulia and Sergei Skripal, and indeed Sergeant Nick Bailey, on 12 March. Following those attacks, the Prime Minister announced on 14 March that, as part of a response to that incident, the Government would

“urgently develop proposals for new legislative powers to harden our defences against all forms of hostile state activity”.—[Official Report, 14 March 2018; Vol. 637, c. 856.]

I will move on to one or two of the provisions in the Bill. The first is the provision to make a temporary exclusion order to disrupt and control the return to the UK of British citizens reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorism abroad. As we have heard in the recent exchanges, that is a very difficult offence to prove, and it is clear to me that it needs tightening up. It is also clear to me that, where there is intelligence or other evidence that people have deliberately travelled abroad to take part in terrorist training or atrocities, they deserve to be prosecuted when they come back.

I was quite attracted to the idea of proscribed areas. Why would anybody want to go to Syria, for example, and put their life at risk, unless it was for a specific valid reason such as being a journalist or overseas aid worker? There is a defence in the Bill of having a reasonable excuse for having travelled to these areas, and I am very pleased to hear that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering such a provision as a possible amendment to the Bill.

I am also pleased that the Bill contains provisions to be inserted into the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 relating to anti-terrorism traffic regulation orders—the so-called ATTROs. As we have so sadly witnessed in the Westminster attack and others elsewhere, an ordinary car, van or lorry can be a weapon in the hands of a terrorist. The ability to prevent people from being in certain areas at certain times is a sensible one to have. In fact, we should be able to ban traffic from a wider area around any events that are likely to be attended by large numbers of people.

I was pleased to see that the Bill will extend sentences for certain terrorist offences from 10 years to 15 years, and that the sentence actually served will be longer than the norm for non-terrorist offences. As I said in an intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell), however, we will have to watch radicalisation in our prisons. I know from hearings of the Public Accounts Committee that conditions in our prisons are getting ever more difficult, including the smuggling in of more dangerous drugs and understaffing. It is very difficult to police what goes on in our prisons, but our prison warders and others have to be ever more vigilant for radicalisation taking place in our prisons, and we must do our level best to try to prevent it.

I am also pleased that the Bill contains provisions for allowing Government-backed reinsurance, so-called Pool Re, to be taken out for business interruption. Sadly, some of the small market traders in Borough were put out of business because they were unable to trade for so long.

I made several interventions earlier on the subject that I wish to concentrate on in my final remarks—terrorists’ use of the internet. As has been said, the terrorists’ modus operandi is getting ever more fleet of foot and using ever more innovative methods. We as legislators, therefore, have to be ever more fleet on our feet to counter them. Terrorists are making still greater use of the internet, and we do not yet have the powers to deal with that. I take strongly to heart the point made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that 1.9 million items of potential terrorist material have been removed from the internet—a 17% increase on last year. The use of the internet is clearly getting greater.

It has already been possible to prosecute people for downloading offences, but it has not been possible to prosecute people for streaming and viewing possible terrorist material on the internet. I know much has been said in the debate about the three strikes approach to viewing such material. A balance has to be struck. Personally, I would make it two views. While once might be a mistake, twice almost certainly is not, and three times establishes a pattern of behaviour that clearly indicates that someone is looking at the material with some form of purpose or intent. The Bill contains a “reasonable purpose” excuse, so a journalist or researcher looking at the material would have a reasonable excuse, but it is right to make looking at it an offence.

It is also right, as the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is doing, to look at how the internet providers can remove such material as quickly as possible. There may well be a need to legislate if that does not happen with increasing rapidity. As I said in an intervention earlier, I cannot see why the likes of Google and Facebook, which have some of the best IT writers on the planet, cannot write programs or use AI to recognise such material and take it down immediately. After all, that is the best remedy, so that people do not have the opportunity to view it. It is all very well prosecuting when they do view it, but it must be best if they do not have the opportunity. I did not want to know the precise mechanisms, because of security implications, but I was interested to know what discussions my right hon. Friend had had with internet providers in the United States on what they could do on a voluntary basis to make the withdrawal of such material much swifter and much more effective.

There are some very important provisions in the Bill, which I welcome. We need to keep ahead of the terrorists. These are some of the most vile crimes on the planet, and we need to ensure that people who contravene the norms of our democratic society are prosecuted, convicted and locked up for a long time. We need to ensure that they know that that will happen, and hopefully that will be a deterrent.