Mr Ben Wallace 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
59 interactions (6,537 words)
Tue 11th September 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Commons Chamber)
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage: House of Commons
76 interactions (7,896 words)
Thu 5th July 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Sixth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 6th sitting: House of Commons
62 interactions (7,170 words)
Tue 3rd July 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Fourth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 4th sitting: House of Commons
55 interactions (8,671 words)
Tue 3rd July 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Fifth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 5th sitting: House of Commons
72 interactions (8,409 words)
Thu 28th June 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Third sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 3rd sitting: House of Commons
29 interactions (3,397 words)
Tue 26th June 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons
59 interactions (4,794 words)
Tue 26th June 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Second sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
48 interactions (3,755 words)
Mon 11th June 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
Money resolution: House of Commons
13 interactions (3,279 words)

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

(Ping Pong: House of Commons)
Mr Ben Wallace Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd January 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page
Home Office

Obtaining or viewing material over the internet

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

I beg to move, That this House agrees with Lords amendment 1.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:31 p.m.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Lords amendment 2.

Lords amendment 3, and amendment (a) thereto.

Lords amendments 4 to 11.

Lords amendment 13.

Lords amendment 16.

I inform the House that the Speaker has selected amendment (a) to Lords amendment 3 tabled in the name of Stephen Twigg.

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

After that jovial urgent question on proxy voting, I feel like some purveyor of doom, as the Security Minister, having to break the positive note, for we are dealing here with some of the most serious issues facing our society. At the outset, however, I would like to thank Members across the House for their work to improve the Bill and for their cross-party approach to nearly all parts of it. If our security and counter-terrorism policies are to be successful, they must bring with them as many people as possible.

Many of the Lords amendments follow up on earlier debates on the Bill in this House and accordingly I trust that they will command the support of all Members on both sides of the House. I will focus my remarks on the substantive amendments. Clause 3 updates section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to make it clear that it is an offence for a person to view or otherwise access via the internet information likely to be useful to a terrorist. Although section 58 as currently drafted includes a reasonable excuse defence, the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) argued in Committee for greater certainty for those who might have a legitimate reason for accessing terrorist material. The Government had previously offered assurances that those legitimately engaged in journalism or academic research would be covered by the reasonable excuse defence, but to provide further reassurance, Lords amendment 1 makes this explicit in section 58.

Although the designated area offence received widespread support when it was inserted into the Bill on Report in this House, the shadow Security Minister said at the time that it would need further scrutiny in the House of Lords. Their lordships lived up to their role as a revising Chamber and proposed amendments to clause 4. Initially, the Government could not support all of them, but on reflection we agree that they do improve the operation of the new offence. The designated area offence is designed to establish a clear ban on travel to a tightly defined area or areas outside the UK, where such a ban is necessary for the purpose of protecting the public from a risk of terrorism, with a criminal sanction for breaching that ban.

Lord Walney Portrait John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Ind) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:34 p.m.

I am pleased that the designated area offence, for which I and others have long been pushing, has survived in some form, but does the Minister not share my concern that some of the get-outs now listed in the Bill could be very easily exploited? For example, how can it be proven that somebody was not going to a designated area to attend a funeral, if that is what they say?

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.

Gavin Robinson Portrait Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) (DUP) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:29 p.m.

As the Minister will recall, some of the concerns that I expressed during the Bill’s earlier stages turned on the issue of free movement within this country, particularly for UK citizens moving from one port to another. In some cases there had been a casual appropriation of former anti-terrorism provisions whereby no suspicion was required, yet people were challenged and checked as to whether they should be travelling. The Minister honourably indicated that he would engage with me on the issue, and he has done so on two occasions. May I ask him whether he has now formed a conclusion on how we can best protect ordinary UK citizens travelling internally from one port to another, and ensure that they are not being checked under counter-terrorism provisions?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:49 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman has made some very valid points. Provisions in schedule 3 and 7 to the 2000 Act relating to intra-UK travel allow people to be stopped and checked without suspicion. I think that one of the best ways in which we can prevent abuse of that tool is to publish figures. I told the hon. Gentleman at a recent meeting that in September I would publish figures showing how many people had been subject to such checks while travelling within the United Kingdom travel, and I think we can start that process of opening up.

I also think that if any of our constituents are subject to such checks, we must always ensure that the police do their work in a manner which is timely and considerate, and which secures the best results for them and the individual who has been stopped. That is not a matter of legislation, but a matter of handling things sensitively. Perhaps we should also be more efficient when it comes to obtaining information, so that there is time to check people before they leave the country.

One reassuring fact is that the vast majority of checks carried out under schedules 3 and 7 involve people who are returning rather than leaving, so there is less disruption than there is when someone is going off for a holiday, for instance. However, I give the hon. Gentleman an undertaking to ensure that the figures are published in September, and I shall then be happy to discuss the issue with him further.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:42 p.m.

May I briefly return the Minister to the list of reasonable excuses? Will he confirm that it would not be up to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they did not apply, but that a person defending a charge would be required to produce some basic evidence that they did apply?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:42 p.m.

Yes. That is important. Someone who claims to be an aid worker or a doctor will be expected to prove that. It is not possible simply to pick one of the excuses and use it as a defence. We should expect it to be necessary for the police to investigate any case in which a person returns from a designated area, to establish either whether that person may pose a risk to the public, or whether they fall outside the offence by virtue of travelling for one of the specified purposes or can otherwise rely on a “reasonable excuse” defence.

Bob Stewart Portrait Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:43 p.m.

If a person from this country were to go to one of the prohibited areas and then come back, would it be automatic for that person to be picked up if he or she had not been given permission to do something there? Is it possible that the security services—which, I presume, fully support this measure—would say, “Let him or her run, because it is more in our interests to watch what they do”?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:44 p.m.

As I think my hon. Friend will know, when it comes to intelligence and investigations, such decisions are operational. Should our police or intelligence services suspect that someone has committed an offence but there is nevertheless more to discover, that is a risk that they will have to take. They will take it into consideration and make a decision. Of course, any prosecution under the Crown Prosecution Service must meet a number of thresholds. It must be established, for example, whether the prosecution is in the public interest, or whether there is a likelihood of success. However, if someone does not provide a reasonable excuse, that person is potentially open to prosecution and to being sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

It is regrettable but a fact of life, given the challenges posed by end-to-end encryption, secure communications, and the ability to obtain evidence from people who we may know from intelligence—but not in evidential space—have been up to no good, that we must seek a way around the current issue. When I attended the G7 in Canada last year, it was clear that every state represented at the table, from Japan to France, faced the same challenges. We must reduce the number of offences of this type, and we hope that the Bill will make a difference. We want it to deliver a strong deterrent to ensure that people are where they are for the right reasons, and to make clear there are other ways to better people’s lives in their communities than going to a designated area for reasons that may turn out to be spurious.

To ensure that the power to designate an area is used proportionately, Lords amendment 5 provides that regulations designating an area will automatically cease to have effect after three years. That will not, however, prevent further regulations from being made to designate the same area should such a designation still be required to keep the public safe from the threat of terrorism.

In its original form, the Bill extended extraterritorial jurisdiction to four further terrorism offences in order to ensure that individuals could be prosecuted in the UK for crimes committed overseas. During its passage, the Government identified two further terrorism offences to which extraterritorial jurisdiction should be extended, namely the offence of inviting support for a proscribed organisation and the new offence of recklessly encouraging support for a proscribed organisation, provided for in section 12(1) and (1A) of the 2000 Act. Lords amendments 9 and 10 amend clause 6 to that end, while Lords amendment 11 limits the extraterritorial jurisdiction in respect of those offences, and the offence in section 13 of the 2000 Act, to UK nationals and residents. That limitation addresses the concern expressed in the Lords that it would be unjust for a non-UK national or resident to be prosecuted in this country for activity overseas in support of an organisation that was not proscribed in the country where they lived, or where the activity took place.

Break in Debate

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:48 p.m.

I am pleased to hear what the Minister is saying, and I commend the work of my Front-Bench colleagues—and those in the other place—who have pushed for it. Does he agree that this is also the perfect time to look at, in particular, the issue of far-right and extreme-right groups? Obviously Prevent already addresses it, and does some excellent work—I have regular contact with my local police force about that—but does the Minister agree that we need to do much more to tackle organisations such as System Resistance Network and Radio Aryan, of which he is well aware, and which spew out hate and bile?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:48 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman has been a good campaigner on that issue, which he has brought to the attention of the Home Office on a number of occasions. One of the reasons why I think this is the perfect time to review Prevent is that I truly believe that if the public knew how much it does in respect of the far right, there would be more support for it, not less. It is having significant success. Half the Channel cases involve the far right. The work that has been done over the last two years clearly shows that Prevent is not about a particular group or ideology, but is similar to other forms of safeguarding that are carried out every day by our social workers, teachers and police.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP) - Hansard

As far as I can see, those far-right organisations are winning the hybrid war against society. Will the Minister talk a wee bit about what his Department is doing to curb the extremely dark channels of money that are coming in from around the world and funding far-right extremism here in the United Kingdom?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:50 p.m.

Terrorist financing, including of the far-right group that was proscribed 18 months ago, is worrying because actually it is not as high as people imagine. In the day of the internet, people can be groomed and inspired for very small amounts of money. Indeed, the five main terrorist attacks of 2017 cost £5,000 in total. That is the reality of a modern-day terrorist attack and the financing behind it. I do not see much evidence of huge swathes of money funding it; what I do see is growing evidence of the impact of the internet in allowing people to join up who in the past had nowhere to go. They may have been the oddball or odd one out in their village, but they now have the ability to live in a fantasy world, indulge their bigoted beliefs, learn how to make bombs and damage and hurt people, and find kindred spirits across the internet. That is what has given one of the big boosts to terrorism, including far-right terrorism.

Mr Alister Jack Portrait Mr Alister Jack (Dumfries and Galloway) (Con) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:50 p.m.

What conversations has the Minister had with social media companies to try to get terrorist material removed from the internet?

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.

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:53 p.m.

The Minister is making some very thoughtful comments. Will he accept that any strategy must not further isolate or alienate any minority communities that continue to face an increase in discrimination and hate crimes? It is therefore particularly welcome that the Government have conceded and we are to have this independent review. Will its findings be brought back to this House for scrutiny, as the Minister pointed out?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:55 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman is right: this will be a public review and we will be able to debate its results in the House and ask for contributions from colleagues and members of the public and groups alike.

Prevent was started by the hon. Gentleman’s Government and I believe it is on a successful flight path. It has diverted hundreds of people, both on the right and Islamist extremists, from the Channel programme back into the mainstream. It is not perfect; not everyone responds to the work that is done and they have to volunteer into the Channel programme. It is high risk, and Labour will inevitably be sitting on the Government side one day and they will carry that risk as well. It is not perfect, and it is better received in some communities than others. I do not mean that in terms of religious communities; I represent a seat that covers north Preston, in Lancashire and this programme is having very good success in some parts of the country. It is not always delivered as well as it should be, but colleagues from around the House from all parties come to me asking for Prevent co-ordinators, suppliers and community groups, and other colleagues who come with concerns. It is the right time to do this. I started publishing statistics as Minister as I was keen to ensure they were out. We have done two years of statistics and they show clearly that it is not a mass spying operation; there have been 7,000 referrals compared with 621,000 for safeguarding, child abuse and domestic abuse. Also, the proportion of people diverted out of the programme are the same as in other safeguarding areas and in the last few years over 300 people have received help on Channel and stopped being a concern in the future. That is 300 people who could have posed a very real risk to our constituents, so I am proud of where we have got to, but am also very open to improving it and moving it forward.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:56 p.m.

Programmes like Prevent and Channel are needed because of the grooming the Minister was talking about a few moments ago. I was pleased to hear what he said about the joint work between his Department and DCMS, particularly with regard to online content, because he will be aware that I am very concerned about online broadcasting and online radio stations, particularly Radio Aryan, which has been exposed by BBC Wales, The Mail on Sunday and the excellent work by Hope not Hate. Will the Minister undertake to look specifically at that issue, because it is producing some vile content that will undoubtedly draw people into far-right and extreme right-wing activity?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:58 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. In protecting people from being groomed and exploited, we all have concern about three main areas. In communities, we need to make sure that people are not groomed by radicalisers and not seduced once they have latched on to what they have seen on the internet from online preachers or elsewhere. That is why the Prevent programme is there. There is also the question of the cause of what drives people to feel that they are lesser or outside the support of the state, which is why we need to do a lot more around Islamophobia; we must challenge Islamophobia. It is happening; it happens in Lancashire and around the country, and if we do not tackle it as a Parliament and a Government it will give some cause and grievance that will be used to recruit people. We probably all dealt in the past in our inboxes with ridiculous BNP-sponsored emails about veterans getting less than an immigrant, with photographs of soldiers and comments like “This veteran gets nothing, but the immigrant gets more,” which turned out to be complete fiction. We must work on that, and where there is a genuine grievance we must make sure it is not hijacked by those who want to exploit that into terrorism or violent extremism. There is also the question of the method of delivery of grievance and grooming, which is the internet. We need to make sure that Ofcom works alongside the Government, but it is of course independent and can make its own judgments. Organisations like Ofcom are there to regulate what is being broadcast to us. The last stage is what part of this legislation does—recognise that where legislation is written for broadcasters and the internet, it moves with the times. Often when Ofcom has banned people they have flipped on to Facebook and launched a broadcast channel, without any controls. So we must be much more agile to do that.

Sir Mike Penning Portrait Sir Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con) - Hansard

I apologise for not being present for the start of the Minister’s speech. I listened carefully to what the Minister said about how little money there is, but it is plainly obvious that money is being moved around. Some of this terrorism is coming back from organised crime, particularly in the Province of Northern Ireland. While we look at the technical stuff and the nitty-gritty of what goes on to prevent terrorism like that in Londonderry the other night—the bravery of our police and armed forces and security services is there to be seen—the explosion did take place and we need to do more to prevent such explosions.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 2:59 p.m.

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

I look forward to working with the hon. Member for Torfaen and with the rest of the House to get the review of Prevent right. I also look forward to ensuring that the offences in this part of the Bill help to empower our law enforcement and security services to deal with the growing threat of safe spaces abroad. We must send a strong message to those who wish to travel to become foreign fighters that they should not do so and that there are alternatives, such as Prevent, that can help to divert them away from committing those offences, but that if they do commit them, they will be caught and sent to prison.

Break in Debate

The Minister and others may recall from an earlier stage of this Bill that I spoke of meeting a deeply impressive young detainee at Medway Secure Training Centre. She turned out to be Safaa Boular, now 18 years old, who has been convicted of terrorism offences and given a life conviction after a chaotic home life and online radicalisation. We all accept that no prevention scheme can stop all potential radicalisation, but we must ensure that we do a lot better in that effort than we have up to now, and we owe it to the vulnerable and the young, who are more susceptible to radicalisation, to do just that. It is vital that the review is not watered down by the Government.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:19 p.m.


Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:19 p.m.

I am not saying that the review will be watered down in any way, but I will give way to the Minister on that point.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I would not like him to think that we ordered the review because we do not think that the strategy is safeguarding people. He refers to the fact that we must do much better based on his meeting with Safaa Boular, who by the way was convicted of planning a proper terrorist plot, no matter how nice she may have been in the detention centre. The reality is that the strategy has safeguarded hundreds of people away from violence and has been proving a success, so I would not want him to leave an impression that it has not. Of course, I agree that, like all schemes, it does not work for every single person, but it has had considerable success in all our constituencies.

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:20 p.m.

I do not dispute anything that the Minister has just said, but there is a huge clamour for review because of the inadequacies of the Prevent strategy, as seen by many in the community. His points about the terrorist plot, and so on, are well made, and I do not dispute them for one second. I am not arguing that Safaa Boular should not have been punished or put in prison; my point is about the fact that she was radicalised in the first place.

Yes, we need legislation that gives the police everything they need to fight serious crime and terrorism, but the Government should bear in mind that this Bill is, in many respects, deeply controversial. They must get it absolutely right, and that will be impossible without a full, independent review—that review has been hamstrung by the Government before it starts. I ask that the Opposition be consulted on the terms of reference, to which the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) alluded earlier, and on the timescale for that consultation.

Break in Debate

Lord Walney Portrait 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.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:43 p.m.

With the leave of the House, I will respond to the points of hon. and right hon. Members. First, let me address the amendment. The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) made a passionate and well-articulated case for adding peacebuilding to the list of reasonable excuses. His example is at the heart of the challenge—peacebuilding is most needed in fragile states, but it is in fragile states that foreign fighters emerge and safe spaces are constructed for that very reason. Effectively, the two sides of this challenge are summarised by peacebuilding. It is therefore important to say that, first, the list is indicative. As long as I have been in this House, there has been debate about whether we have judicial discretion and about not doing too much in primary legislation. Lawyers in this House will be well used to that. The more comprehensive the list, the less room there is for judicial discretion. With no list, there is judicial discretion; holes are found, and we become subject to a different interpretation by judges every time. The word “indicative” is key. This is an indicative list. The major reasons listed are the headline reasons why the vast majority of people go to these places. They are clear, but still broad enough to cover most of the areas that concern us.

Top of the list of subsection (3B) is obviously paragraph (a)—

Break in Debate

Bob Stewart Portrait Bob Stewart - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:47 p.m.

So, if a person wishes to go to a designated area, that person should, perhaps on Foreign Office advice, be told, “That is a designated area; you need to declare it.” If that person declares it prior to his or her going, that is good. If they do not declare it, and they go there and are picked up on the way back—it might be a mistake, but it might not—is that what the Minister anticipates might happen?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:47 p.m.

The decision that we took around this offence is that it is not a permission—something that you obtain in advance. As the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) pointed out, in the Danish system one effectively gets a licence. The problem with that is that people just get a legitimate licence, and then go and carry out their other mission. It is also administratively burdensome. It also becomes a barrier to travelling for those who are doing so for a genuine reason, because they would have to check in with the state beforehand. We are proposing that people can go, but that if we have a suspicion that they have been doing something, we will test their “reasonable excuse”, and if the “reasonable excuse” fails, they will be guilty of the offence. We believe that to be the best way.

The hon. Member for Torfaen said that journalists would not be able to advertise where they were going. Many are based in theatre and do not know where they are about to go. They might be based in Lebanon and choose to visit—as some have—foreign fighters in detention in Syria. We shall not set up a permissions system; it is simply that you will have to declare it.

To clarify, the list of specified purposes is an exhaustive, not an indicative list, but there is power to add to the list by regulation. To give some reassurance to the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby, let me say that we will review the operation of this in conjunction with the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, to see how it works, and we will of course be open to adding to the list if there were such issues as he represents. I am confident, however, that genuine peacebuilders would have a reasonable excuse and would not, therefore, be subject to the committing of an offence.

To give the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness some reassurance let me say that these excuses do not exempt a person from committing the offence if all their reasons for being out there are not covered by the “reasonable excuse.” You cannot say, “On Monday I am a peacebuilder; on Tuesday I am a terrorist.” That will not exempt you from that offence. You have to be there specifically and entirely for a reasonable excuse.

Stephen Twigg Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:50 p.m.

I thank the Minister for his response, particularly for what he has said about the potential for review and the ability perhaps to make additions at a later stage. I also thank him for speaking into the record what he has just said about genuine peacebuilders, which is immensely helpful. I understand that some sort of policy guidance will be issued once this Bill is enacted. May I encourage his Department to look at the reference to peacebuilding in that policy guidance?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 3:50 p.m.

I would be delighted to look at that. I also remind the hon. Gentleman that the Crown Prosecution Service has a role in this. It will test not only the validity but the interest of prosecuting in this area. We do not risk people being wrongly prosecuted by organisations not being on the list as it is, by the time the process has been gone through. While the individuals may not be totally au fait, the prosecutor will be, as will the judge who will test the proposition of the prosecution. I do believe that we should be confident about that. However, I give the hon. Gentleman the undertaking that I will keep it under review.

The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) made a good point about best practice. My experience of visiting Prevent around the whole of the United Kingdom is that it is better received in some areas and better delivered in others. It is absolutely the case that Prevent works very well in some areas, depending on the different communities and who the Prevent champions and community leaders are. He made very good points about community cohesion in Scotland. We are, absolutely, happy to look at that to see what lessons are to be learned. At the heart of his point, he is absolutely right—best practice is going on. I do not want us to throw out Prevent because of a few failing examples, or examples that do not actually exist when tested. We need to build on it and show where it is a success, and we must not be frightened to say, “Look, it is working”, if that is what the reviewer decides. But of course it can be improved. We improve Contest every few years. We do not hold that the Contest strategy overall is absolutely stuck, and therefore we make sure that we move it on.

The right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) talked about proscription. He will know that Lord Anderson made this suggestion. I met former Lord Chief Justices and a number of Members of the House of Lords on the issues. The Lords, including those on the Labour Front Bench, rejected the amendment. It is quite easy to request that an organisation is looked at and de-proscribed. It only takes a letter from someone to say, “Will you consider de-proscribing this organisation?” In doing so, they are effectively immune from being prosecuted. If they say, for example, “I do not think this organisation should be proscribed because I support it”, and send the letter in, the process starts. That is already open to people.

However, the legislation around proscription is not as straightforward as some people think. We often proscribe groups overseas. In fact, since I have been Security Minister, we have de-proscribed groups that I had frankly never heard of until we did so. They were way overseas somewhere. For example, we de-proscribed one of them so as to assist peacebuilding in a country that was a fragile state so as to allow that process to progress. It is not as straightforward as I think some in the House of Lords had thought it was going to be. A lot of the proscription legislation came around the time of the Northern Ireland Good Friday agreement. We should be mindful about what automatic de-proscription, or automatic reviews, may unlock not so far away.

It is important that we reflected on the issues. We rejected the proposal as there is a solid mechanism already in place whereby people can ask to de-proscribe and call for a review. That is why the House of Lords rejected it, and we are not going to seek to replace it here.

Lords amendment 1 agreed to.

Lords amendments 2 to 11, 13 and 16 agreed to.

After Clause 16

Persons detained under port and border control powers

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

I beg to move, That this House agrees with Lords amendment 12.

Dame Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 1:49 p.m.

With this it will be convenient to consider Lords amendments 14, 15 and 17 to 42.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“post factum oversight in urgent cases”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

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.

James Cleverly Portrait James Cleverly (Braintree) (Con) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:15 p.m.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important that as a society—not just as a Government and a House—we make it clear that the norms of international behaviour that we impose on ourselves are not universally accepted? The willingness to deploy both poisons such as Novichok and fake news, lies and so on might seem beyond reality to us, but is the norm for other regimes in the world. We have to be prepared to deal with such regimes and to push back against them.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:15 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes a strong observation about the rest of the world. Now is not the time for us to abandon our belief in the rule of law and, indeed, in the maintenance of our freedoms. In fact, we defeat others by leading by example. As he rightly points out, however, when we are faced by such adversaries, the challenge for any Government is to navigate their way through, to keep people safe while upholding their belief in the values and freedoms that we enjoy in the United Kingdom and maintaining the rule of law.

The stops—the powers under schedules 3 and 7—have been around in the terrorism space since 2000. They are strong powers, and they are limited by being used only at the border. Their use is not open to normal police officers going about their normal business. We do that to ensure that we maintain the freedoms in our society, while at our vulnerabilities, such as at borders, we have that extra layer in order to deal with—

Sir Mike Penning Portrait Sir Mike Penning - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:16 p.m.

Will the Minister give way?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:16 p.m.

No, I will press on to the end. I do not think that my right hon. Friend has been in the debate.

It is important to deal with issues as we look at the legislation. The right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) used the B word, although I had hoped to get through the whole debate without using it. One of the delights of being the Security Minister is that in the world of intelligence sharing and of law and order, Brexit has often been kept at bay. However, the right hon. Gentleman has raised the issue, and we have taken steps to deal with it through private conversations with Ministers from around Europe and the European Commission and through the withdrawal agreement in the deal, which got us access to nearly all the things that we have now. That is why I was, and am, in favour of the deal—security is incredibly important.

We have recruited hundreds more people in order to strengthen the border and to deal with anticipated changes as we get there. The Government are taking that seriously, and we will plan to deal with it. However, it is at our borders that we will be most vulnerable, which is why this new power will help the police and intelligence services at least to keep our borders safer than they are now. That will not change, whatever our relationship with Europe. The hostile-state power will be for our domestic intelligence services and police, and whether we are in or out of Europe, half in or half out, or whatever we are, this power will be a welcome one that they are willing and wanting to use.

Julian Knight Portrait Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con) - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:18 p.m.

Obviously, the B word is my favourite word at the moment. On information sharing, does the Minister agree that although we are leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe? We will be a good neighbour as far as security and information sharing are concerned as we move forward into the future.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 Jan 2019, 4:20 p.m.

Within the remit of the Bill, we should remember that intelligence is the preserve of the nation state and will continue to be so. That has not and will not change. Contrary to what Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 at the time of the Iraq war, said in a letter that he put out last week, we managed to be full members of the Five Eyes and NATO at the same as we were full members of the European Union, so I do not believe that that will be lessened, whatever our status. We will still be members of the Five Eyes and NATO, whatever our relationship with the EU post 29 March. That is why the Bill is pitched correctly. It deals with the threats we have faced, the lessons we have learned from terrorist attack and from the hostile-state attack by Russia last year, and we are only as good as the lessons we learn. That is why the Bill is important in giving us the powers that we need.

In closing, I thank the Bill team, who have put up with their Minister wanting far too many changes, for helping me to deliver the sort of collaborative working that I used not to see, I am afraid, when I was in opposition a long time ago and for producing a Bill that I think most of the House regard as a good place to be. I am also grateful to their lordships for improving the Bill and to Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National party for their changes to the Bill. Thanks to those changes, we have a Bill that truly will help to bring people together and deliver better security.

I also thank the hon. Member for Torfaen for putting up with my struggling pronunciation of his constituency—I hope I got it right, but my Welsh is very poor—the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton and the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands). I thank, too, the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) for his helpful suggestions and his campaign on the designated areas. He was part of their inspiration, so he can carry some the blame if it turns out in a few years that they do not work. [Laughter.] I will take some of the blame; so can he.

Finally, I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch (Rachel Maclean), who performed gallantly as my Parliamentary Private Secretary through Committee, and our usual channel, the Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Treasury, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard). I also thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, the Speaker and the other Deputy Speakers for steering the Bill through the House.

Lords amendment 12 agreed to.

Lords amendments 14, 15 and 17 to 42 agreed to.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Mr Ben Wallace Excerpts
Tuesday 11th September 2018

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page
Home Office

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

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

Mr Speaker Hansard

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments 1 to 5 and 15 to 18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab) Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 3:56 p.m.

I do not want to digress too much, but in those circumstances, at which point could a person lose their British citizenship? Will that come into play at all?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 3:57 p.m.

The decision to deprive a person of their British citizenship would not be affected by this at all, one way or the other. The factors involved in making that decision range from intelligence to criminal behaviour and whether that person poses a threat to the United Kingdom. The decision would not be linked. Obviously, some people who have been deprived of their citizenship have been foreign fighters overseas engaged in fighting for ISIS or al-Qaeda, and this measure is aimed at stopping exactly that type of offence.

Everyone recognises the challenge we have in Europe. I was at the G7, and every member state has a cadre of foreign fighters who are a challenge when they come back. It is important to get a statute book that can deal with that. We often have evidence that foreign fighters have travelled to, say, Raqqa, and we may have evidence to some extent that they have supported or been engaged in areas of terrorism, but it has been very hard to prosecute. That is what this Bill is trying to do. The Danish Government have similar legislation, as do the Australian Government.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab) Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 3:58 p.m.

The Minister is obviously right. We have to deal with foreign fighters, and the best way to do that is to prevent them from going in the first place. Will he confirm that no aspect of new clause 2 or the Bill will specifically address the issue of citizenship, and that even if a British citizen travels to a designated area, they will not have their British citizenship taken from them?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

What I can say is that if a British citizen goes to a designated area and commits an offence, it will depend on what they were doing. If a British citizen who is a dual national goes to one of these areas to fight for ISIS or al-Qaeda, and if we cannot prosecute them, deprivation becomes more of an option. I would prefer to see these people put on trial in a British court, convicted and sent to prison. That is my preference, and all these other measures have been introduced to try to deal with these very difficult issues.

The Bill also extends the jurisdictional reach of some offences, such as under the Explosive Substances Act 1883, to try to ensure that people committing offences over there can be tried.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP) - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 3:59 p.m.

As the Minister says, we already have quite a lot of offences with extraterritorial jurisdiction, and clause 5 would add to them. What can he do to convince us that the new clause is necessary and proportionate, given the plethora of extraterritorial offences that already exist?

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.

Lord Walney Portrait John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Ind) - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:03 p.m.

I congratulate the Minister and the Government for—although belatedly—bringing in this power, for which I and many others have long been calling. It was patently obvious that many of the Brits who we knew were travelling to Iraq and Syria had no other reason to be there than to support terror, but there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute, hence 400 of them, by the Government’s own estimate, are coming back largely without prosecution. Do the Government have an estimate of how many of those 800 Brits who we know went over to Raqqa during the recent conflict could have been prosecuted under this legislation, had it been on the statute book at the time?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:05 p.m.

I am happy to write to the hon. Gentleman with a specific number, if we trawl through the whole lot. I certainly see cases where we have footage of people in certain locations. They may not necessarily be carrying a black flag, but they are dressed in combats and they are standing in front of an iconic building somewhere. I cannot express how frustrating it is to see what I see, with some very dangerous people coming back to our communities, and I long to be able to prosecute them. Very often the “You done nothing” critics do not provide an alternative suggestion. This is an alternative suggestion. I have not heard other suggestions.

I have taken my time on this. When I was in Singapore last year, I met my Australian counterpart, who talked about such legislation. I spoke to the people who use it on the ground—the Australian police force and security services—and we have explored other ideas. It is incredibly frustrating to know that in our communities are people who pose a real risk and who we have struggled to be able to prosecute. That is not because of resource, but because of statute, and that is what we are trying to fix.

I place on record that the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) has done a lot on this issue. Unlike many people who speak on these things, he has met detainees in Turkey and other places. He will know the challenges that the Turkish Government and our Government face. He has been supportive and made suggestions on this type of measure, which will make a difference. While Syria is tragically coming to a place where there are endless horrors on the horizon in terms of Idlib that we must all unite to try to stop, the groomers are encouraging people to go to new places and new safe spaces. We have seen aspirant travellers into parts of Africa. We have seen aspirant travellers to the conflict in parts of the Philippines. They are out there now encouraging our young people to go into a safe space, so they can indoctrinate them to become terrorists. That is why I passionately feel and the Government feel that we need to put this measure on our statue book.

Sir William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:06 p.m.

My right hon. Friend and I have had quite a lot of discussions on this issue. I have also had discussions with the former Home Secretary, now Prime Minister, on the subject as long ago as 2015. The Minister knows what I am going to say, because I gave a speech during the proceedings of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 on 6 January 2015—more than three years ago—on whether we could stop these terrorists coming back to kill people. Since the events I referred to in that speech, many have been killed. The issue is about making people stateless. I know my right hon. Friend will have considered that; will he please comment on it?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:07 p.m.

My hon. Friend knows that making people stateless is a hefty measure. From our legal advice, we cannot make someone stateless. If they are a dual citizen, we can deprive them of citizenship. I understand the point that my hon. Friend makes, but in an international community, we cannot entirely pass our problems around. Part of the offence with designated areas is that other countries do not like us unilaterally saying, “It is not our problem anymore. We do not have any offences to charge them with, so we are going to deprive them of citizenship and off they go to you. It is your problem now.” Our preference is to bring them back, charge them and put them in prison. We think very hard about the international consequence of deprivation.

Sir William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:08 p.m.

Will the Minister allow me one further point? I had referred to the international convention, article 8 of which clearly states that if a person who is effectively in a designated area under the new clause has sworn allegiance to, or acted in a manner such that he is giving his allegiance to, another state and is also saying by implication that he no longer regards himself as a British citizen, it is possible to make them stateless. For that reason, I wish I could get a more emphatic answer to my question.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:10 p.m.

As ever, my hon. Friend makes an articulate and knowledgeable point. My disagreement is that, no matter how it may take allegiance, I do not recognise ISIS to be a state. It is a non-state. It is a fabrication of pretty awful people. We should not give it credibility: just because some poor, weak, often exploited people, but also some pretty nasty people, have sworn allegiance to it, it does not make them part of a state. It is one thing for someone to renounce citizenship and say, “I am now going to be a citizen of country X,” but Islamic State is a fiction of many people’s imagination, as we have seen. It is in rapid decline.

I would like to push on to amendment 1, the flag seizure power, which would confer on the police a power to seize flags or other articles associated with a proscribed organisation. Under section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000, it is an offence for a person to wear, carry or display an item of clothing or other article in such a way as to arouse reasonable suspicion that they are a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation. By conferring on the police the power to seize such articles, we will ensure that they and the Crown Prosecution Service have the best evidence to pursue a prosecution under section 13.

Of course, the police already have the powers to seize evidence following an arrest, but in the context of policing a march or demonstration, arresting an individual may not always be an option if the tests for making an arrests are not satisfied. Even if arrest is an option, it may not be an appropriate policing response at that time. Obviously, the decision would be at the discretion of the police. In such cases, if the police wish to take action against a person displaying such a flag, then instead of arresting the individual, the officer may choose to report the person for summons on suspicion of committing an offence under section 13 of the Terrorism Act. This new power would enable the officer in these circumstances to seize items such as flags that are reasonably in evidence under the section 13 offence without there having been an arrest, provided that the officer is satisfied that it is necessary to seize such items to prevent the evidence being concealed, lost, altered or destroyed. By preventing the loss and destruction of such items and articles, this approach will better support investigations and prosecutions by providing more evidence to help take forward prosecutions.

Gavin Robinson Portrait Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) (DUP) - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:11 p.m.

The Minister will know that there are particular issues around flags and their association with proscribed organisations in Northern Ireland. Will he outline for our benefit what engagement he has had with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, or indeed with the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland, around this clause, the associated difficulties in pursuing such prosecutions and the ancillary arguments that are made that a modern-day flag associated with a proscribed organisation actually has roots in the legitimate historical associate group?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:12 p.m.

I know that throughout the passage of the Bill we spent days with the PSNI. On the point about the DPP, I will make sure that the hon. Gentleman gets an exact answer on that from officials. As he will know, I have first-hand experience of what can go wrong and of the consequences of trying to take a flag or something from a proscribed organisation. Certainly, taking away a flag in certain parts of Northern Ireland has, in the past, acted as an instant lightning rod for a riot or a breakdown in civil order, and there were definitely better methods that could be used to police a parade. There is also an obligation on the police to make sure that policing is done in a way that allows a legitimate march to go ahead, but that does not provoke a public order disaster. That is why police discretion is important.

I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is trying to get at, which is that, in Northern Ireland, the matter is not straightforward. A flag does not have pure terrorist content. Different parts of the community will interpret other people’s flags. There is also a historical basis in organisations having a flag which links to the first world war. Things are not as straightforward as people think. I have been very cautious in introducing this amendment to make sure that my experience—and, obviously, the hon. Gentleman has greater experience—of Northern Ireland is not forgotten. I do not want to see flag protests becoming more and more polarised than they were in the past. I will happily get back to the hon. Gentleman in relation to the DPP in Northern Ireland.

I turn now to Government amendments 2 to 4 to clause 3, which close a widely recognised gap in the law with regard to the viewing of terrorist material online. Following the helpful debate in Committee and considerable discussions with the Labour party and its Front-Bench Members, I took the decision that it was best to drop the concept of the three clicks. Throughout the passage of this Bill, I have been open to suggestions from all parts of the House. I agreed completely that, first, the three clicks would not survive the test of time and that, secondly, we would not end up with good law or achieve our aim. I undertook to see how we could improve on this, and I listened to the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds). I am 48—just about a kid of the ’80s—so I remember the Spectrum and the ZX81, but I think it is best that legislation in the digital age looks like us, sounds like us and is not written by people who probably switch on a computer once a year.

Instead of splitting hairs about clicks and everything else, we came to the view that it was right in principle for the Government to update legislation for the digital age with provisions on the collection or recording of information that is likely to be useful to terrorists. The provision applies consistently to information that is accessed online, rather than as under the current measure, which only covers information that is downloaded. When the previous legislation was written regarding downloading content or taking copies, broadband was very slow—if it existed at all—so the only way people could watch content was by downloading it first. Now with superfast or fast broadband, people are streaming everything. This creates a loophole that can be exploited and that we have to close.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I am a little puzzled. The Government have conceded that clause 3, as originally drafted, was imperfect and lacked sufficient clarity, but do they not make the problem worse by removing the requirement for three clicks, so that only one click will suffice, and broadening the offence to include not just viewing but accessing material in any way? I do not understand how these amendments address the imperfection and lack of clarity.

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

The intention behind the three clicks provision was an ambition to ensure proportionality and provide a safeguard for those who might inadvertently access such material, but we recognise the underlying difficulties of this approach and the uncertainty regarding how it will be implemented. That is why we tabled amendment 2.

Amendment 4 complements amendment 2. It is intended to provide a similar safeguard, but in a clearer and more certain way, without relying on a blunt instrument. These amendments will make it clear on the face of the legislation that the reasonable excuse defence would apply if the person does not know, and has no reason to believe, that the information they are accessing is likely to be useful to terrorism. This means that a person would be able to defend themselves on that basis in court. As a result of section 118 of the Terrorism Act 2000, if such a defence is raised, the court and jury must assume it to be satisfactory, unless the prosecution is able to disprove it beyond reasonable doubt.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I am not satisfied with that explanation, because the reasonable excuse defence is only there for somebody who does not know what they are doing. What if somebody legitimately accesses the material, knowing its content, but without any intent to commit harm—for example, an academic or a researcher? They would not be protected by that defence, would they? [Interruption.]

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 4:17 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the new clause sets out,

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

That reasonable excuse defence will be an extremely important safeguard. I also draw attention to what Max Hill QC, the current independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said in October 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

This is not an easy issue; in fact, it is an extremely difficult and almost impossible one. Safaa, along with her mother and sister, had planned to carry out truly terrible acts. The fact that she was convicted and, just last month, sentenced to life imprisonment is testament to that. I am not saying for one second that people like Safaa should not be punished—of course they should—but I know that we have to do more to help people like her before they become radicalised. Despite the fact that the Prevent strategy is better implemented on the ground in Scotland than it is south of the border, I am pleased to support amendment 13, which I urge the Minister to accept. All it asks for is a review.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:05 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes an honest and powerful point about Safaa Boular, whom he met. Terrorists do not always present themselves in balaclavas or as nasty pieces of work, and they are often the victims of grooming or other troubles. The people who groom the likes of Safaa Boular are those returnee fighters who are hardened and who come back here. In the past, we have found such people difficult to put on trial and put away to protect the likes of her from those groomers. The designated area offence will give us the ability to do that. If returnee fighters pose a real and present threat of radicalising people in these communities, as they do—

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) - Hansard

Order. Just to help: the Minister will obviously want to come back at the end of the debate, and I want him to save something to come back with. Even those on the Front Bench are meant to make only short interventions.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:06 p.m.

I apologise, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker - Hansard

No problem.

Break in Debate

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.

Break in Debate

Lord Walney Portrait 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.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:28 p.m.

I was listening to the hon. Gentleman’s dulcet tones. He articulates the challenge with security. None of us wants to ratchet up security. We want to balance our liberal open democracy and our individual freedoms with the clear and solid duty of the state to keep people safe.

In the 21st century, we have had a rapid growth in insecurity around the world, brought to our doors by such things as the internet and communications service providers. My hon. Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Dr Johnson) talked about the work on CSPs and what we can do to deal with the issue. That is why the offence related to streaming is so important for us. It may not satisfy the Scottish National party on streaming, but streaming is a method by which people are being radicalised and terrorist content is being spread. Streaming is a modern method of viewing terrorist content that helps to turn those young 16-year-olds into potential terrorists. People have to come up with better alternatives. They cannot say, “We are going to stick with the older legislation that is entirely predicated on downloading.” They have to recognise how these people are doing business. That is why we brought in that offence of streaming.

The right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) made a point about designated areas and the burden of proof. I wrote to the Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds), on exactly that point. He has clearly articulated from the Dispatch Box that once the defendant has raised the defence, the burden of proof to disprove that defence to the criminal standard rests with the prosecution, as in section 118 of the 2000 Act. The burden of proof is positioned in that way, and at the moment we have decided that not having an exhaustive list is the way to go. Just as with the previous issues of reasonable excuse and streaming, we think the right thing to do is to allow people to present an excuse for being there. It also allows the broad space for their human rights and everything else to be correctly regarded.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:31 p.m.

I am very grateful to the Minister for the many telephone conversations that we have had during the passage of this Bill and for keeping me up to date, albeit not on last week’s amendment. Does he understand that the reason why some of us on the SNP Benches are concerned by the designated area clause is that my very good friend and professional colleague at the Bar, David Anderson, who has expertise in this area, has expressed some concerns? Will the Minister note for the record that that is why some of us want to put this measure to the test—not for any reasons of frivolity, but for reasons based on sound legal concerns about necessity and proportionality?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:32 p.m.

Of course we listen to and respect current and former reviewers of terrorism. Lord Carlile, the former Liberal Democrat, has often had different opinions from Lord Anderson. Indeed, the current reviewer of terrorism, Lord Hill, has different views. They all do an amazing and thorough job, and they will, for example, have oversight of the use of this offence. They will be able to review the use of this offence as part of their role. I have no doubt that Max Hill, who has gone to be the next Director of Public Prosecutions, will be able to carry out the prosecution’s discretion, which is so important when deciding on the public interest test in some of these offences in the Crown Prosecution Service. The hon. and learned Lady may have confidence in those reviewers of terrorism, but I have confidence in Max Hill as the next DPP, coming from the review of terrorism, to make those sound judgments about when it is in the public interest to prosecute or not.

I can give assurances to Members about the Sentencing Council. Absolutely, we shall continue to work with it, and we will write to its members to make sure. When it comes to the naming of the designated areas, I will seek to bring the matter to the Floor of the House. It is an affirmative motion, and I am absolutely open to that; I do not oppose it in any way.

The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) made a point about data and the European Union. She will know that national security is not in the jurisdiction of the European Commission or the European Union. What a country chooses to share in data for national security purposes is entirely the business of the member state. We can choose what we want to do with our intelligence, and it is not for someone else to pass that on. Her point about the “Five Eyes”, therefore, is not correct. Even when we share intelligence in the “Five Eyes”, if the intelligence comes from another partner in the “Five Eyes”, we do not have the authority to share that with our European partners because it does not belong to us; it belongs to that sharing partner.

Furthermore, on that data sharing point of the European Union, that is a negotiation that we are seeking to secure. Such a negotiation is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Commission. If they want to keep their people safe, security is a partnership; it is not a competition. That is why our offer on negotiation of security is an unconditional open offer, which seeks to share in a way that we have done in the past.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:34 p.m.


Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 5:34 p.m.

I am sorry, but I want to press on, because I want to get to the final point and address Labour’s amendment on Prevent. I hear what the hon. Member for Torfaen says and I in no way question his motives.

Since I have been the Security Minister, I have made sure that we have published more and more statistics on Prevent; they did not previously exist. These statistics enable all of us in the public realm to scrutinise the results of Prevent referrals, including information on where they come from, people’s ages and the accuracy of the referrals. Without any statutory review, after some time—I think we have published two bulletins so far—we will be able to see whether the accuracy of Prevent referrals from different sectors is producing the results that we want. We will know how many people are being correctly identified as vulnerable and exploited. At the same time, we regularly review Prevent within the Government and the Department, and through engaging with the 80-odd community groups that deliver some of the Prevent programmes.

If the Government or I felt that Prevent was not producing a result and diverting many people from the path of violence, I would be the first to come to the House and say, “We have to get it right.” The critics of Prevent—which the hon. Member for Torfaen is not—never set out an alternative. They criticise its title, but always set out a provision that is exactly the same as Prevent.

It is not necessary to have a statutory review of Prevent at this time. It is improving and becoming more accurate, and people are absolutely becoming champions of it across every sector. Today I saw, I think in The Daily Telegraph, a letter by a long list of academics about the chilling effect of Prevent. Never mind that the Higher Education Funding Council for England said in its evidence to this House that it had yet to see any evidence of the chilling effect. In fact, a judge in a recent challenge about the Prevent duty said the same thing—that the defendant had yet to prove any chilling effect. I have not seen a letter from academics about the chilling effect on universities of no platforming, whereby people are shut out of debates entirely. The Prevent duty is about having balance in debate and due regard to the impact.

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s motives and, to some extent, what the Opposition want to achieve. I would say that the publication and transparency that we are increasingly moving towards with Prevent, and the assurances that Prevent is not an inward reporting system—that is, people do not go into Prevent and get reported to the intelligence services; it is deliberately kept as a separate safeguarding activity—means that the best way forward is to continue improving Prevent as it is. We can discuss its accuracy and success rates, but until someone comes up with an alternative policy to what we and the Labour Government had, it is unnecessary to put a review in statute. Therefore, despite our collaborative working on the Bill, I ask the House to reject the hon. Gentleman’s amendment.

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

The House proceeded to a Division.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) - Hansard

I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate a delay in the Aye Lobby.

Break in Debate

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.

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

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

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

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

There have always 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.

There is another addition that is different from other detentions. Because we recognise the issue about the potential overhearing of consultation between a lawyer and the person detained, whatever is said in that detained stop, whether it is over the four hours or whatever, is not admissible in court, so it cannot be used against the person. That is different from a normal PACE arrest in a police station. That is the sort of balance that we have tried to strike. It is also the exact mirror of what we have had for the past 18 years in that space.

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

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

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

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

Tony Lloyd Portrait Tony Lloyd (Rochdale) (Lab) - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:03 p.m.

There is really no fundamental disagreement on the objective that the Minister is trying to achieve. The idea that the Irish border could be used as a way for foreign powers, or those who would do us harm, to come into Great Britain and Northern Ireland is simply unconscionable, so we are in the same place. However, he knows Northern Ireland well and knows the border well, and he also understands the necessity of having a regime of trust. Given that background, he has gone quite a long way in what he has said about the reporting requirements. Between now and when the Bill moves to another place, will he think very long and hard to make sure that there is enough reassurance to those involved that, in the context of Northern Ireland, this could not be used in a way that leads to misunderstanding or—I do not want to use the word “frivolous”—would allow those who want to trash what lies behind his intent to so do? We are in the same place; we simply want a mechanism of accountability.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:03 p.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the tone of his comments. I am happy to give him as much assurance as he would like. I am very conscious as to the issue around the Irish border and its sensitivities. I will certainly seek to give him that reassurance in writing. If there is any further assurance that we can seek to give in relation to the PSNI, I will definitely do that.

SNP Members have made a similar point about their concern about the border. With all due respect to them, they make a strong point—and also with regard to the European arrest warrant—about the value of seamless sharing and the value of the Union, but there is an issue whereby they seek on a daily basis to erect barriers between our Union. It is no good their saying that they like the seamless tool of the European arrest warrant while at the same time seeking to split our great nation and erect barriers between a political and economic union. They should just remind themselves that they cannot have it both ways.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) made a clear point on the European arrest warrant. It is very clear that the Government’s offer on security to the European Commission is unconditional. We wish to have the European arrest warrant or something as identical as possible. Some Opposition Members made a point about the current Brexit Secretary’s position. I assure them that if that was not our negotiating position, I would not be standing here as the Security Minister. The key to good security is partnership, and not just on the European arrest warrant. One fault of the new clause is, why not say the Schengen information system II? Why not say Prüm? Why not say all the other sharing mechanisms that are really important to our security?

I do not believe that placing this in primary legislation makes sense, first because this is a counter-terrorism and hostile state Bill, and secondly because it is what we are asking for. If it was not what we were asking for, I might understand the pressing need for the new clause, to try to change the Government’s position, but it is what we are asking for. The message I urge all Members to give to the European Commission is, “How far do you want to cut off your nose to spite your face?” It is not a position of the members of the European Union. When I meet their intelligence services, police forces and Ministers, they all agree that they want to give us a security agreement.

It is not because we have better capabilities, which we do. It is because the sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts when it comes to security partnership, and this will benefit us both. It does not matter who has equity of capability. It benefits us both when we work together in a security partnership.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:06 p.m.

If what the Government seek to achieve is no different from new clause 1, the Minister should just vote for it. I ask him in all seriousness, what message does he have for the 80 Members on his own Back Benches who threaten to vote down the Chequers deal because of their concerns about European Court of Justice oversight of those security arrangements? I see the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees- Mogg) in his place. What does the Minister have to say to those Members, who would wreck the security co-operation we have with Europe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds - Hansard

I do not find that explanation convincing in any sense.

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

Break in Debate

Third Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (Lab) - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:28 p.m.

I am grateful for the approach that the Minister and the Secretary of State have taken and for the fact that the loophole in terror insurance to cover non-physical damage has been addressed in the Government’s plans. However, the explanatory notes suggested that the Government would do several things to support my community, which was so badly affected last June, yet still not a penny of Government support is going to the employers in my constituency who were affected by that terror attack. Despite the fact that the Government failed to update the legislation sooner, that could have been done some time ago and was not. My constituents and their businesses are still not being compensated for the damage they have experienced—150 firms have lost more than £2 million.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:28 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman made that point in Committee. I was due to meet him last week. Unfortunately, because of the Salisbury issues, that meeting was delayed, but I will meet him. I have spoken to the Exchequer Secretary. The hon. Gentleman is right about some of the issues with the package for his community, compared with what has happened after other events. That is a discussion for us to have with the Mayor of London.

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 7:28 p.m.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

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.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Sixth sitting)

(Committee Debate: 6th sitting: House of Commons)
Mr Ben Wallace Excerpts
Thursday 5th July 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page
Home Office
Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (Lab) - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 26, in clause 19, page 19, line 27, at end insert—

“(4) Where an event occurs which the Secretary of State has grounds to believe may be an act of terrorism for the purposes of terrorism reinsurance, the Secretary of State must within three days of the event make a statement that—

(a) the event is or is not an act of terrorism for the purposes of terrorism reinsurance; or

(b) there is not yet enough evidence to make a statement under paragraph (a) and set a timeframe for when it is expected that such a statement is likely to be made.”

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to make a statement in relation to whether an event is an act of terrorism within three days of the event occurring, or else provide a statement of when such a statement is likely to be made.

It is a great pleasure to serve with you in the Chair, Ms Ryan. I hope the amendment is self-explanatory, so I shall keep my comments to a minimum. Under the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993, the Treasury holds responsibility for providing certificates of classification for acts of terror. Members might think that that duty would more sensibly sit under the Home Office, given its wider responsibilities for policing and security. The Bill is the chance to update that obvious discrepancy and to speed up classification to better help those affected when terror attacks occur. The Government and the security services tell us that the threat remains severe so, sadly, further attacks will come.

Under existing arrangements, the Treasury is supposed to classify within 21 days, but in practice that varies widely. There is also a contrast with individual Ministers, who often state on the day or the next day after an attack occurs that it was terrorism, but official certification takes longer. Ministerial comment should act as a guide to insurers and others involved, but the practical experience at London Bridge and Borough market in my constituency has taught me that that does not always happen, leaving those distraught after an attack with further problems just knowing how and when those with insurance can claim back losses.

I believe that the Westminster attack took 11 days to classify, and the London Bridge and Borough market one took far too long to declare: that happened 21 days after the attack, and only following pressure as a result of an Evening Standard intervention on behalf of classification. Those delays have consequences. The amendment aims to tackle situations in which businesses hit by terrorists are then held up by a convoluted process in moving on with their lives and their business.

As mentioned on Tuesday, claiming on insurance after attacks is tough enough. One insurer told a business affected by the Borough market attack that it was not covered for terror attacks, and the same insurer told another firm—one with terror insurance—that the Borough market attack had not been classified and that no payment could be made. That is simply not good enough, and the amendment would end that bad practice.

The amendment would allow for swifter declaration, in line with ministerial statements, and would protect businesses further and better. The uncertainty and delay over London Bridge and Borough market caused more anxiety for those affected at an already difficult time. It is unnecessary and unhelpful to experience delays in accessing the support that is supposed to be there in very tough circumstances, with businesses already badly damaged.

Ministers have claimed previously that London Bridge and Borough market took longer to classify due to the involvement of three police forces: the British Transport police, the Met and the City of London police. Blaming police forces that did so much to end the attack so swiftly and to help all those affected is simply distasteful. The amendment could provide a swifter process, to prevent police officers from being blamed for delays to classification.

Members may have concerns that a three-day limit is too short a timeframe in more complex incidents, but the amendment is designed not to be overly prescriptive—I thank the Clerks for helping me draft it. Cyber-attacks, by their very nature, can take more time to identify—months, in some cases—and any return to planting bombs around buildings or infrastructure without the involvement of suicidal attackers might also take more time to investigate to confirm motives. The amendment would allow for that.

The three-day process is designed for the more obvious attacks, such as that in my constituency last year. Ministers and the Prime Minister stated on the day that it was a terror attack—weeks before formal classification. However, the amendment includes a means of deferring formal declaration for more complex attacks. It would make a helpful, practical difference to employers affected by terror in the immediate aftermath. For attacks that take longer to classify, the amendment allows a statement to be made indicating what that time might be. At the time of any event, and in the face of all the facts, which may or may not be in the public domain, it would be entirely up to Ministers to make that statement and give direction, without that being burdensome.

The proposal would allow insurers and Pool Reinsurance to step in more swiftly to support those affected by any future attack. I hope that the amendment is welcomed by the Government, and I look forward to the Minister’s reply.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 11:34 a.m.

It is nice to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Ryan.

As the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Neil Coyle) explained, the intention behind the amendment is to ensure that the Government make a public statement three days after an incident about whether it is an act of terrorism as defined by the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993. If that is not possible within three days, the amendment would require the Government to provide an estimate of when they will be able to make such a statement.

The amendment would significantly alter the current process, and would introduce uncertainty for businesses and insurers during what is already a stressful and challenging time, following a terrorist attack. The 1993 Act requires that reinsurance and guarantee arrangements can be extended only for losses related to acts of terrorism, as defined by the Act. There is an established contractual process, under which an incident is certified as an act of terror in accordance with the 1993 Act. That important process is designed to give the insurance industry certainty about whether an incident is within those reinsurance or guarantee arrangements.

In the case of the Government-backed terrorism insurer, Pool Re, Her Majesty’s Treasury has an agreed deadline to certify whether an incident is an act of terrorism. It must do so within 21 days of receiving a certification request from Pool Re. It is worth clarifying that Pool Re’s formal certification request may not necessarily arrive on the day of the terror event, as it is driven by whether any of its members have received a claim.

The Treasury treats certification as a priority, to ensure that Pool Re and its members can proceed with the claim process. That means that businesses can get the financial protection they have paid for through insurance contracts. The Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge attacks in 2017 were all certified within 21 days. For example, the Manchester Arena attack was certified within five business days of the certification request being received from Pool Re.

Once such a request has been received, Treasury officials consult the police and the Home Office before giving advice to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who makes a final decision about whether an event should be certified as an attack. That certification process properly sits with the Treasury, as the Chancellor’s approval is ultimately required to authorise any financial support required for Pool Re.

Pool Re is not the only underwriter of terrorism risk in the country. Many businesses across the UK are insured via contracts with different terms, conditions and certification processes. That means that if the Government were to make a public statement about the status of the certification process, as it related to Pool Re, it would risk confusing those businesses about the status of their own claims.

I know that the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark is particularly concerned about the length of time it took for the horrific terrorist attack in his constituency in June last year to be certified, and I am very conscious of the impact that any delays can have on businesses. I have therefore asked that our officials look at why the process is not quicker after a Pool Re certification request comes to the Treasury, given that, as Security Minister, I sometimes know within minutes or hours whether an attack is a terrorist offence. Indeed, the head of counter-terrorism often makes a public statement to that effect within hours, not days.

I have taken the essence of the hon. Gentleman’s amendment and his constituents’ concerns and sought to follow up to see why it takes so long when a request enters the Government system—I cannot do much about how long it takes for claimants to submit a claim. The clock starts not once the event happens but once a claimant makes a claim to an insurer, and then the insurer triggers the Pool Re request. That could take time, depending on loss adjustment and that end of the process.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will seek to improve the performance of the process and to find out why it takes so long once the Government formally receive a request. His point is well meant, and I do not disagree with it. I cannot see why the process takes so long in some cases. I assure him that I will follow that up. I hope my assurances, which I will keep the hon. Gentleman updated on, are enough to persuade him to withdraw his amendment.

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 11:39 a.m.

I thank the Minister for his response. The difficulty is that he wants a reactive system, whereby insurers wait for someone to get in touch with them, but I think we should have a more proactive approach. Insurers should step in as soon as a Minister makes it clear that a terror incident has occurred. However, on the basis that the Minister is seeking further advice before the Bill progresses any further, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle - Hansard
5 Jul 2018, 11:44 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 27, in clause 19, page 19, line 27, at end insert—

“(4) After section 2 of the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993 (Reinsurance arrangements to which this Act applies) insert—

‘2A Duty to advise on terrorism insurance

(1) Where the conditions in subsection (2) are met, an insurance provider has a duty to advise on the available insurance related to losses sustained as a result of acts of terrorism.

(2) The conditions referred to in subsection (1) are—

(a) that a person asks the insurance provider for advice in relation to insurance (whether related to terrorism or not); and

(b) that it seems to the insurance provider that the person may benefit from insurance in relation to a loss which is covered by terrorism reinsurance arrangements under this Act.

(3) In this section, “insurance provider” means—

(a) a person regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority who sells insurance, or underwrites the risk of such insurance, or

(b) the agent of such a person.’”

This amendment would require insurance providers to advise on the insurance available in relation to losses sustained as a result of acts of terrorism.

I thank insurers and brokers for all their help since last June, including the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association. The amendment would require insurance providers to advise on the insurance available in relation to losses sustained as a result of acts of terrorism.

The Government have been commended for belatedly acting to better extend the Pool Reinsurance model to cover contemporary forms of terrorism. Having seen my constituency attacked without the adequate protection that could have been available, I am slightly more reticent to congratulate them. However, covering non-physical damage and allowing employers to be covered for all business interruption issues arising from a terror attack is a significant step forward for people and firms who might be affected by future attacks.

There were firms at London Bridge and Borough market that were affected by physical damage from the vehicle that was used initially in the attack on the bridge. The vehicle ended its journey on the edge of the bridge, damaging the Barrowboy and Banker and the London Bridge Experience. Some buildings incurred other damage during the attack, including bullet holes from the swift police response to end the brutal rampage. However, most of the damage was non-physical, as we discussed on Tuesday. The closure of premises; the lack of access to stock; the loss of stock; the inability to contact customers; lost bookings; lost contracts; and employees leaving, with the associated recruitment costs, are all forms of business interruption, as highlighted on Tuesday. Extending coverage for those matters as standard in future attacks is welcome.

The Government tell us the threat remains severe, so it is likely w