There have been 48 exchanges between Mr Ben Wallace and Home Office
|Mon 15th July 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||20 interactions (563 words)|
|Mon 10th June 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||13 interactions (378 words)|
|Tue 9th April 2019||Rwandan Genocide: Alleged Perpetrators (Urgent Question)||48 interactions (2,624 words)|
|Mon 1st April 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||11 interactions (379 words)|
|Mon 18th March 2019||Far-right Violence and Online Extremism (Urgent Question)||89 interactions (6,084 words)|
|Fri 15th March 2019||Speaker’s Statement: New Zealand Terror Attacks||3 interactions (165 words)|
|Fri 15th March 2019||Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill||4 interactions (920 words)|
|Mon 25th February 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||17 interactions (507 words)|
|Wed 30th January 2019||Points of Order||3 interactions (62 words)|
|Wed 30th January 2019||Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]||60 interactions (6,866 words)|
|Tue 22nd January 2019||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill||54 interactions (6,537 words)|
|Mon 21st January 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||13 interactions (375 words)|
|Tue 18th December 2018||Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees)||72 interactions (9,680 words)|
|Mon 3rd December 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (76 words)|
|Mon 3rd December 2018||Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]||18 interactions (3,307 words)|
|Mon 29th October 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||10 interactions (204 words)|
|Wed 17th October 2018||Petition||3 interactions (148 words)|
|Wed 17th October 2018||Drug Trafficking: County Lines||6 interactions (1,961 words)|
|Thu 11th October 2018||Foreign Fighters and the Death Penalty (Urgent Question)||26 interactions (2,683 words)|
|Wed 12th September 2018||Salisbury Incident||85 interactions (10,235 words)|
|Tue 11th September 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill||73 interactions (7,896 words)|
|Wed 5th September 2018||Organised Crime: Young People’s Safety (Westminster Hall)||5 interactions (2,604 words)|
|Mon 23rd July 2018||Foreign Fighters and the Death Penalty (Urgent Question)||66 interactions (3,632 words)|
|Tue 17th July 2018||Non-EEA Visas: Inshore Fishing (Westminster Hall)||15 interactions (1,692 words)|
|Mon 16th July 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||21 interactions (435 words)|
|Tue 10th July 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Seventh sitting) (Public Bill Committees)||45 interactions (6,310 words)|
|Thu 5th July 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Sixth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)||61 interactions (7,170 words)|
|Tue 3rd July 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Fourth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)||50 interactions (8,671 words)|
|Tue 3rd July 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Fifth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)||66 interactions (8,409 words)|
|Thu 28th June 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Third sitting) (Public Bill Committees)||29 interactions (3,397 words)|
|Tue 26th June 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees)||54 interactions (4,794 words)|
|Tue 26th June 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Second sitting) (Public Bill Committees)||44 interactions (3,755 words)|
|Mon 11th June 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill||13 interactions (3,279 words)|
|Mon 4th June 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||13 interactions (435 words)|
|Wed 23rd May 2018||BAME Communities: Stop and Search (Westminster Hall)||10 interactions (2,875 words)|
|Tue 22nd May 2018||Serious Violence Strategy||44 interactions (4,595 words)|
|Thu 19th April 2018||Home Department (Ministerial Corrections)||6 interactions (277 words)|
|Mon 16th April 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||33 interactions (1,046 words)|
|Wed 28th March 2018||Kerslake Arena Attack Review (Urgent Question)||52 interactions (4,840 words)|
|Wed 28th March 2018||Police Funding||15 interactions (1,063 words)|
|Mon 19th March 2018||Money Laundering (Urgent Question)||85 interactions (4,614 words)|
|Mon 26th February 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||21 interactions (601 words)|
|Thu 25th January 2018||Proscription of Hezbollah||23 interactions (2,908 words)|
|Mon 8th January 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||34 interactions (984 words)|
|Tue 19th December 2017||Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism||16 interactions (3,457 words)|
|Mon 20th November 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||33 interactions (876 words)|
|Mon 16th October 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||25 interactions (672 words)|
|Mon 3rd July 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||23 interactions (785 words)|
2. What steps the Government are taking to tackle economic crime. 
I welcome the new economic crime plan, and I agree we need more resources to finance people to tackle these various crimes. What more will be done under that new plan to strengthen our protections against fraud?
17. Given that the Government are constantly telling us how much more money they are putting into funding the police forces across the UK, can the Minister tell us how many detectives were assigned to serious organised crime in 2010, and how many there were in the latest available data? 
I welcome the economic crime plan, but I do not see any mention of extending the “failure to prevent” offence to include economic crime. Is the Minister still keen to do that?
Poor pension transfer advice can amount to fraud, but in my experience local police officers often refer such cases to the Financial Conduct Authority, which often focuses on administrative penalties rather than criminal prosecutions. Will the Minister agree to meet me, and to review economic crimes against pensioners, so that justice can be done?
How will the forthcoming legislation requiring the registration of overseas entities prevent money generated through crime and corruption overseas from being invested in the London property market?
As capital moves ever more easily, it is imperative that we look again at the very limited circumstances in which large financial actors can at present be held accountable before the law. The Minister mentioned corporations a moment ago, but the Government’s economic crime plan totally fails to take on the issue of corporate criminal liability, which we must consider. Here is a very simple question: what are the Government afraid of?
3. What assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the EU settlement scheme application process. 
Break in Debate
T8. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best way to get the message to those across the world who gain wealth from grotesque crimes involving hideous human rights abuses and fraud that they are not welcome here is to have more unexplained wealth orders and a robust UK sanctions regime up and running? 
My constituent, Bibi Rahima, said that
“my life is just a prison”
after she was accused of cheating in the test of English for international communication. She was overjoyed when she won her appeal in May, but I have written to the Home Secretary on her behalf again today to plead against a further appeal now being taken against her. I am certain she did not cheat, and the judge in her appeal in May said that
“there is no specific evidence in relation to this Appellant at all.”
Will Ministers now withdraw that cruel and pointless action?
11. What steps he is taking to provide security and law enforcement organisations with the tools that they need to counter terrorism. 
Our security services are world class, but we know that co-ordination is key, so does my right hon. Friend agree that negotiating security co-operation with our European partners and neighbours and strengthening our alliances around the world should be top post-Brexit priorities?
This weekend, the Home Secretary announced as part of his leadership bid a £500 million investment in border security in Northern Ireland, plus ongoing costs. Will the Minister agree to publish the proposals as soon as possible, so that they can be open to public and private scrutiny?
I was horrified to read that a Hezbollah bomb factory storing three tonnes of explosive materials was discovered in north-west London in 2015—three and a half years before the Home Secretary fully proscribed the antisemitic terror group. Why did the Government wait so long to act? Why were the public and MPs not informed, given the debates that we have had on this issue?
13. What steps his Department is taking to promote the EU settlement scheme. 
Break in Debate
Can I give the Minister a brief message from my constituents? They say that perpetrators of organised crime are constantly improving their ability to use new technologies to defraud them, and they have no resistance to having the best and most modern technology possible in the fight against crime.
Last Thursday, I travelled to the Netherlands with Teagan Appleby’s mother, Emma, to pick up the medical cannabis that has reduced Teagan’s seizures from 300 to four a day. In the absence of NHS prescribing, parents like Emma are having to go abroad, or pay exorbitant import and pharmacy charges. Emma had a UK prescription, so met the criteria presented to her at border control to the letter. Why, then, did the Home Office make UK Border Force detain the medicinal cannabis that Teagan so desperately needs?
(Urgent Question): To ask the Home Secretary if he will make a statement on the handling of the cases of the five alleged perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide in the United Kingdom.
As the Minister said, Sunday was the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. The hon. Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) and I represented this House, along with the Minister for Africa, at ceremonies in Kigali, which were dignified and profoundly moving.
The House will recall that nearly a million Rwandans were murdered in frenzied killing over a 90-day period while the international community effectively did nothing to stop it. Once the killing was ended, those leaders who were responsible for the genocide fled. Over the intervening years, many have returned voluntarily to Rwanda to be processed through the Gacaca court system. Others have been extradited to Rwanda from the United States, Canada, France, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden. Britain, sadly, is a glaring exception.
Proceedings started here in the UK more than a decade ago in respect of five alleged genocide perpetrators, but in spite of ruling that there was a prima facie case of genocide made out against all five, the British courts declined to extradite. The British taxpayer has already forked out more than £3 million in legal costs, and four of the five are living on benefits, including housing benefit. The Rwandan authorities, having failed to secure extradition in Britain in the lower courts, have declined to proceed to the Supreme Court and have asked that the UK undertake the trial here. In spite of all the evidence already being available here in the United Kingdom, the Metropolitan police have indicated that it could take a further 10 years to process these cases.
The souls of those who were murdered in the genocide cry out for justice, but from Britain justice has at least been delayed and at worst denied. The Nuremberg trials commenced a mere seven months after the end of the war and were concluded within 10 months. In the interests of those facing these dreadful allegations, as well as of the reputation of British justice, we should surely expect these five alleged génocidaires to be on trial at the Old Bailey by the end of this year. I end with the words spoken last weekend by the distinguished Rwandan Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr Johnston Busingye, who, when he came here to Britain, our Director of Public Prosecutions could not even find the time to see. He said this:
“Anyone who cares about British values and justice should be ashamed. The UK will go down in history as the only country in Europe that knowingly shielded alleged Rwandan génocidaires from justice.”
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) for applying for this urgent question on such an important matter, and I am grateful to you for granting it, Mr Speaker. The Rwandan genocide took place in 1994, and its recent 25-year anniversary was a haunting reminder of what happened. It was an atrocious act of violence, with hundreds of thousands of people being killed in just 100 days. That such a heinous act took place while the world stood by is a stain on the international community.
Allegations have been made against five individuals whose extradition to Rwanda was not granted by the High Court in 2017. I will not comment specifically on the individuals themselves. It has, however, been reported in the past couple of days that Scotland Yard received a referral from the Rwandan authorities in January 2018, and that Scotland Yard officers were sent to help with the investigation regarding those individuals, as the Minister has confirmed today.
It is right that these allegations are investigated in this country. We believe in a rules-based international order. If that is to mean anything, a crime against humanity must be considered as a crime against us all; no matter where in the world it takes place, all efforts must be made to pursue justice for victims. Although the Minister must be circumspect about what he says with an investigation ongoing, can he reassure the House that all necessary resources will be put at the disposal of the investigation, that all possible efforts to gather evidence will be made and that, although it will of course be complex, the investigation will be carried out carefully and as speedily as possible?
Other countries with very strong records of protecting asylum and the rights of individuals under criminal investigation, such as Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, have seen fit to extradite suspects back to Rwanda. Why have we not?
I congratulate the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) on securing this urgent question, and I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting it, as the 100 days of commemoration of the 25th anniversary begin. I was part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation to Rwanda last year—I think it was the first ever CPA delegation to Rwanda—and saw at first hand the efforts that are being made to achieve justice and build peace. However, the question of alleged perpetrators remaining overseas leaves a cloud hanging over those efforts. It is not fair either to those who are accused or to the victims that these accusations are left untested.
Building on some of the questions that have already been asked, and accepting the role of the judiciary, what discussions have been had with other countries about why they felt able to allow extraditions? If the justice system here has concluded that a fair trial cannot be conducted in Rwanda, a way has to be found to achieve justice here. Is the Minister confident that the Met police has enough resources to complete its inquiries? What is the planned timescale for the next steps once those inquiries are concluded? Can he assure us that those steps will be taken as quickly as possible so that justice is both done and seen to be done?
With chain gangs labouring in uniforms of magnificent pink, like that worn by my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch (Rachel Maclean), is there not much we can learn from the Gacaca court system?
I will not ask the Minister to comment on these particular cases, but given the decision of the High Court in 2017, can he assure the House that there is no obstacle in principle to anyone who is accused of war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity facing justice in this country, provided the evidential test is met?
Twelve years ago, I sat in on one of those Gacaca courts and saw some of these genocide suspects being put on trial. It was a rough and ready process, but does the Minister agree that a huge amount of work has been done over the years by the international community, including by British lawyers and experts, to help Rwanda improve its justice system? It has abolished the death penalty. Does he agree that there is no problem in principle with extraditing suspects to Rwanda to face trial?
May I plead with the Minister for a greater sense of urgency in this case? The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), whom I congratulate on securing the urgent question, talked about a 10-year delay. The Minister said there was a three to five-year delay. Three to five years is still too long. It is 25 years since the genocide in Rwanda. May we please have a sense of urgency from the Government?
I have spent time in Rwanda with Project Umubano and with the Select Committee on International Development. I have met people whose families were slaughtered. I have met people who have reconciled themselves to the fact that they no longer have families. They have gone a long way. I agree with the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) that it has been too long. These people have waited 25 years. Perhaps we have not been doing this for 25 years, but we should have been. We should have moved it on. People cannot come to peace until this is reconciled.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) on asking it. As he mentioned, it was very important for us to attend the Kwibuka 25 remembrance ceremonies in Kigali on Sunday. I must tell the House that the bravery of survivors was humbling. Our duty to them is to pursue justice.
I know the Minister knows that, so may I ask him a broader question? What conclusions has he drawn about the UK’s current ability to act on crimes against humanity, and what discussions has he had with the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development about that? That matters not just to Rwandans but to other victims of grave injustices, such as those from Syria, and not just to direct victims of these heinous crimes but to every one of us in this world, all of whom rely on the rule of law.
Having been on several trips to Rwanda with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Derbyshire (Mrs Latham) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), I entirely share their comments. Does the Minister agree that it is vital that this case is prosecuted with the utmost vigour? If the 2017 High Court judgment leads people to think that the UK is a soft touch, people who commit these atrocious crimes will see the UK as a natural refuge. That should not be the case, and they should know they will face the full force of the law, whatever the views of the court system in the country from which they have come.
The Minister is hearing from both sides of the House that we want action and that we want this investigation to happen promptly. We all know that he is not in charge of the courts and that the police are independent, but he does have the power to give extra money to the Met war crimes unit now, rather than waiting for a request. Will he not do that and send a signal from this House that we want the police to have the resources to get this investigation done soon?
Along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), I have talked to some of the families who witnessed some of these dreadful crimes. In the Minister’s meetings with the Metropolitan police, he should urge it to proceed on this as urgently as possible. Three to five years is too long. If it were a terrorist outrage in this country, the public would be rightly outraged that it is taking so long. May I urge him to urge the Metropolitan police to get on with this? After all, most of the evidence has already been collected by the earlier court cases.
I, too, met survivors of the Rwandan genocide when I visited Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006. I know this subject is very close to your heart, Mr Speaker. I thank you for granting the urgent question, and I congratulate the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) on asking it.
Mr Speaker, you will remember 10 years ago, when we were joint vice-chairs of the all-party parliamentary group on genocide prevention, sitting in a meeting with Jack Straw on closing the impunity gap in the law and making sure that alleged war criminals could be prosecuted in this country. People will look at us today and say that our judicial system and our asylum system are supposed to give sanctuary to those fleeing human rights oppressors and atrocities, and that they should not be abused by the alleged perpetrators of war crimes. There is no time limit on justice, so why did the police not investigate these crimes in parallel with the extradition process? Will the Minister report to this House on a six-monthly basis so that we are not here still demanding justice for the survivors on the 30th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide?
When I visited Rwanda in 2002 I had the misfortune to see some horrific scenes as a result of the genocide, and it was made very clear to me then that justice has to be part of the reconciliation process. A lot of progress has been made in Rwanda—I visited again last year and saw some of that progress—but will the Government continue to work with Rwanda to ensure it can continue making progress while, at the same time, recognising that justice is an important part of that recovery process?
I congratulate the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) on raising this issue. Were we talking about people who were allegedly involved in the Nazi holocaust, there would be a much stronger sense of urgency on the action that needs to be taken. In that context, I believe the Minister is defending the indefensible. During the extradition proceedings, there have been 10 years in which I assume information has been gathered by the authorities. To say that it will take a further three to five years, or probably closer to 10 years, to bring the matter to trial is just unbelievable. Complexity and thoroughness do not justify this level of delay, and I urge him to listen to the unanimous voices on both sides of the House and do all in his power—it is not about resources but about a will to act—to ensure that the police pursue this and that these people are brought to justice much more swiftly.
I accept the Minister’s good faith, and I recognise this country’s good record on dealing with its international obligations. I welcome the fact that neither he nor anyone else in this House is seeking to go behind the decisions of this country’s independent judiciary, but does he recognise that it is important in such cases to ensure that too much time does not pass and that the testimony of witnesses does not fade? We are often dependent on eyewitness testimony in such cases, and those of us who appear in the courts know that the longer it is since the incident, the harder it is to ensure a fair trial and fair testing of the evidence.
Not long after my election, I met a constituent who had seen their family members brutally killed during the Rwandan genocide. Her story was heartbreaking. It is unbearable for her that one of the alleged perpetrators of those horrific acts of violence now lives in her town and is free to continue with his family life without fear of extradition. She is asking when she will see justice for her brothers.
Anybody visiting Rwanda will recognise a spirit of reconciliation and a real desire to move on from the absolutely horrific events of 1994. That is backed up by a sense of justice, often through the specially arranged local courts. If Rwanda has done the right thing, why cannot we?
I, too, have visited Rwanda, although it was with the all-party group on agriculture and food for development, so I saw a far more positive vision of the country. It is shocking to go round the stunning countryside and reflect on the fact that it was once steeped in bloodshed. Has the Minister had conversations with his colleagues in the Department for International Development? The number of survivors of the genocide is dwindling as the years pass. Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were deliberately targeted with rape, and many were deliberately infected with HIV. Working with the survivors can perhaps help us to gather evidence and eventually bring people to justice.
The alleged perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide are Rwandan citizens, are they not? The public in this country will view with disbelief the fact that we are not returning them to justice in their own country. For those people to be at large and in receipt of social security benefits just makes the situation even worse. If in 1970, 25 years on from the horrific events of the second world war, there were alleged Nazi war criminals in this country and the Government were refusing to extradite them for trial in West Germany, Poland and Israel, that would have been unacceptable, as is this.
In a few weeks’ time, I will join Nottingham’s Rwandan community to commemorate 25 years since the genocide. Further to the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mohammad Yasin), does the Minister appreciate the impact on survivors who have made their home in the United Kingdom of our country not being seen to be doing everything possible to ensure that those who are guilty of crimes against humanity are brought to justice?
I was privileged to be on the first Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation to Rwanda last November. It truly is a glorious country. The theme across all the meetings we took part in, whether with the Foreign Minister, in reconciliation villages or with district mayors, is that no one will or wants to forget the genocide. Those people deserve justice. One of the Foreign Minister’s concerns was our apparent unwillingness to investigate the allegations against the alleged perpetrators of the genocide. The Minister knows that in 18 months’ time, Rwanda will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. How can the UK Parliament, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the UK Government sit with the Rwandans in Kigali talking about common purpose around security and safety, when it appears that we do not take their concerns and their need for reconciliation and justice seriously in the UK system?
12. What steps he is taking to provide security and law enforcement organisations with adequate resources to counter terrorism.And thank you very much, Mr Speaker. 
I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. How does he respond to the concerns raised by the security and defence chiefs about the danger posed by the withdrawal agreement to our security relationships with the US, NATO and the Five Eyes alliance?
Break in Debate
Thank you for your condolences, Mr Speaker. We live to fight another day.
There are some thoughtful people on the Government Front Bench, but listening to today’s questions I get the feeling that they live in a silo, where they are comfortable but do not join up with other Departments. I hear from senior police officers up and down the country, but particularly in West Yorkshire and Huddersfield, that there is inadequate supply of the special skills needed to combat terrorism on the internet.
May I add the congratulations of Members on the Opposition Benches to the hon. Member for South East Cornwall (Mrs Murray)?
The Minister has spoken about having more money for counter-terrorism, but when an appalling terrorist attack occurs it draws in officers and resources from mainstream policing as well as specialist counter-terror officers. Surely he must accept that cutting more than 21,000 police officers since 2010 has diminished the Government’s capacity to keep people safe.
14. What steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities settle the status of the children of EU nationals in their care. 
(Urgent Question): To ask the Minister for Security and Economic Crime, in the light of the recent terrorist attacks against the Muslim community of Christchurch, New Zealand, to make a statement on the Government’s strategy to tackle far-right violence and online extremism in the United Kingdom.
Last week’s terrorist attacks on mosques in New Zealand killed 50 people and wounded a further 50 people. I am sure the whole House will join me in expressing our most sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones as well as our solidarity with the people of New Zealand as they come to terms with this and legislate to prevent such incidents from happening again. We have also seen this morning that a terrorist attack took place in the Netherlands, and we offer our sincere condolences to the three people who died during it.
In Lewisham, we have five mosques; two of them are in my constituency, and I have been contacted about the very real concern. This type of racial hatred and violence, whether in the UK or elsewhere in the world, must not be tolerated. It brings with it such immense fear, worry and anxiety for our Muslim communities, for families, children and young people. This should not be happening to people in this country or other countries; this should not be how people live, and the Government need to demonstrate that everything is being considered and done to keep people safe from harm and to promote respect and acceptance of difference and others. Will the Minster therefore state how his Department will deal with social media offences, including the removal of extreme content, and protect free speech, while developing an efficient strategy to tackle hate speech online? Also will he confirm he will be increasing his commitment to financing mosque security?
With my New Zealand passport in my left pocket, may I thank the House and the nation who, with a very few exceptions, were extremely sympathetic? That was spread throughout the media. Although in New Zealand the armed forces and sports teams, such as the All Blacks, are fearsome in the field, as a nation the people are known for their friendliness and acceptance of different races, colours, and religions. What is most disturbing is that even with such community integration, a case such as last week’s, which “could not happen in New Zealand”, did. The All Blacks I just mentioned are a positive example, as they are of different races, colours and religions but are brilliantly effective at playing as a team.
One positive point, as I am sure the Minister will agree, is that our gun laws are much tighter at the moment than at least those of New Zealand, if not those of all nations. Does he agree that our laws are sufficient, but the difficulty is the importation of illegal weapons? Will he go for that rather than changing our gun laws?
Mr Speaker, thank you for granting this urgent question, and it is a credit to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) that she applied for it. I join all Members in passing on condolences to the families and friends of those murdered in this heinous act of terror against people for no other reason than that they were Muslims. We send sympathies to the people of New Zealand, and to those affected by the incident in Surrey and the ongoing situation in Utrecht.
As the Leader of the Opposition has said, an attack on anyone at worship is an attack on all peoples of faith and non-believers too, as they go about their lawful, peaceful business. The harrowing live streaming of events in Christchurch, on the other side of the world, raises questions about the role of social media platforms in facilitating a growing extremism. Although a White Paper on online harm is of course welcome, does the Minister accept that asking online platforms to act is not enough and that we need a new regulator with strong powers to penalise them if they do not curb harmful content?
We must also ensure that our laws and policies are robust and up to date. Will the Minister clarify when the new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation will be appointed and in post? Will he also confirm that lessons will be learned from both domestic and international experience in the forthcoming independent review of the Prevent programme?
I am not suggesting that any political perspective has a monopoly on virtue. Does the Minister agree that such vile acts of hatred show that we must all redouble our efforts to argue for a society of tolerance and respect?
I referred to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.
The House will welcome the calm and purposeful way in which my right hon. Friend spoke this afternoon and in his broadcast round this morning. He was matched by the Opposition spokesman, who has shown that this is a task for the community. This is not just about other faiths, but the whole community, and we must stand with the Muslims as we stand with the Jews.
Will my right hon. Friend go on encouraging the Community Security Trust—the CST—to share with our mosques and Islamic societies the basic steps that people can take, within the law, to help to raise levels of confidence and security?
No one who has ever visited New Zealand can fail to have been struck by not only the beauty of the country, but the warm welcome one gets from its diverse people, as the hon. Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) has said. On behalf of the Scottish National party, I wish to condemn the terrible evil we saw in New Zealand last week, and to send our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved and injured.
In Scotland, our Muslim community are a valued part of our society, as they are across the whole of the United Kingdom, but we must always be aware of the particular threat posed to them from far-right extremists. I am sure the Minister will agree that Islamophobia must be combated and condemned wherever it raises its head. Does he also agree that politicians, journalists and those in the public eye should always be cautious never to cross the line on free speech and fair comment to risk stirring up the sort of hatred and “othering” that can feed into the narrative of the far right?
There have been a growing number of incidents across the UK in recent years, and it was good to hear the Minister on the radio this morning and this afternoon saying that he is alive to that threat and will put resources into tackling it. I noticed that on the radio this morning the Muslim Council of Britain was very concerned to ensure that its community should get the same sort of funding as the Jewish community has received to protect its places of worship against attack, and I was pleased to hear the Minister say on the radio that protective security tacks with the threat present. It seems that he does recognise the threat, but will he confirm that he will be meeting the MCB to discuss its requests and to look at directing funds where needed?
Finally, we have seen incidents where far-right extremists have tried to intimidate and silence Members of this House who have called them out for their hate. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow South (Stewart Malcolm McDonald), in particular, has suffered at the hands of far-right extremists recently. I know that the Government have been very sympathetic about that, but does the Minister agree that all of us, across this House, must stand united with our colleagues against the threat from the far right?
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement, and I strongly agree that the tech companies need to do more to stop the spread of hate and incitement to violence. However, does he also recognise that the internet is a force for good and that many authoritarian countries—China and, now, particularly Russia—are attempting to impose censorship on it for their own repressive political purposes? Does he therefore agree that any measures we take need to be proportionate and targeted, and must not allow other countries, such as Russia, to claim somehow that they are acting for reasons similar to ours?
Will the Minister admit that the internet has allowed the formation of chatrooms such as 4chan and 8chan, online communities such as the “incels”—the involuntary celibates—who are misogynistic and who blame women for their lack of access to sex, and the bubbles in which both ISIS and, now, neo-Nazi, far-right white supremacist groups gather their followers? Does he acknowledge, and does he have a plan for dealing with, the grooming and the escalation of evil and violence that is growing in these unregulated spaces?
On Saturday morning, I met Muslim families from all over Essex who had come to Chelmsford to meet each other. I spoke to many leaders of the community, but also to young teenage girls and other younger members of the community, and it is clear that they are very fearful and worried. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that our Muslim constituents are our friends, neighbours and colleagues; that they are vital to British society today; and that we as parliamentarians and Government Members will do everything to stand by them and keep them safe?
On Friday night, hundreds of local residents in Walthamstow joined together in a vigil for the people of Christchurch. We heard from both our Muslim community and our New Zealand residents, and many were clear with me that they recognise that far-right extremism does not come along talking about Hitler and wearing jackboots; it comes from those people who slowly drip, online and offline, poison into our politics and discussions. It behoves us all in this place, therefore, to stand up to the people who lead that charge. What does the Minister intend to do, when he recognises this twisted mindset, to make sure that nobody in this place gives a platform and a veneer of respectability to people like Steve Bannon, Candace Owens and Fraser Anning? Let us say that they are not welcome here in this Chamber and here in this country.
As the Minister is aware, I was a councillor in Tower Hamlets at a time when young schoolchildren were groomed to go to Syria and we had far-right marches going through the borough. It was clear from my time as a councillor just how important Prevent is for giving children the intellectual resilience to resist those kinds of radical, unpleasant and divisive messages. Unfortunately, we have seen too often that people try to spread misinformation about Prevent. Does the Minister share my concern that politicians should challenge that misinformation so that communities feel greater confidence in Prevent and feel confident enough to share the kind of critical information that stops people falling prey to radicalisation of this kind?
I send, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, sincere condolences to the victims, their families and all the people of New Zealand. We stand in unity with them and with all our Muslim brothers and sisters across the world.
Will the Minister condemn without reservation Islamophobic language, whether used by individuals or in the media? The Liberal Democrats have looked at the proposed definition of Islamophobia from the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims, and we think that it is a very good one and have adopted it. Will the Government do likewise?
I express compassion and solidarity with all Muslims from New Zealand, across the world and in my constituency of Harlow. We have the wonderful Harlow Islamic Centre in my constituency. It is a small community, but a thriving one. In 2013, there was an arson attack on the Harlow Islamic Centre mosque. Will my right hon. Friend set out again what provision and support there is for the smaller mosques and thriving communities such as Harlow to ensure that these kinds of attacks do not happen?
May I add the DUP’s sympathies to all those who were killed and injured in New Zealand in that very vicious terrorist attack? Northern Ireland has experienced the unadulterated evil of people slaughtering worshippers in what should be a safe place—for example, in Gospel Hall in Darkley on 20 November 1983. In the face of evil, it is time for good people to stand with those who have been attacked. So can the Minister confirm what support has been offered to New Zealand in relation to policing, to forensic expertise and to counselling support for those victims who have lost loved ones?
I feel that it is a matter of some regret that this urgent question has been framed as one of right-wing extremists, because there are also left-wing extremists; this is terrorism, pure and simple. I am proud that my first question in this House was to ask for the finances to provide security at Jewish schools in my Hendon constituency. Indeed, the Community Security Trust is based in Hendon and provides that security. Now we need to make the same call on behalf of Muslim schools and Islamic institutions in our constituencies. Will the Minister take that suggestion to the Treasury and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and ask for resources to be made available to these communities, because any kind of extremism is not acceptable?
I too visited mosques and had contact with local Muslim leaders on Friday, and there was a palpable sense of fear. I praise South Wales police and our police and crime commissioner for responding so quickly. I was particularly disturbed to speak to young people who told me that they were watching the video of the horrific attacks in New Zealand. We have to do everything we can to prevent young people from having to see such horrific content. On that note, I have to push the Minister and the Home Secretary further. I do not doubt their sincerity in wanting to deal with these issues, but they say that we need to wait for the online harms White Paper. I have previously raised with both of them the issue of an organisation called Radio Aryan, which is available on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I have also raised this matter directly with the social media companies, and it is absolutely clear that they do not give a damn. That content is still online this morning. It advocates antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and white supremacy. Why is it still on there and what are the Government going to do to remove it?
I was particularly moved this afternoon to hear the Home Secretary using the Arabic words, “Bi-smi llāhi r-rahmāni r-rahīm”, meaning “In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful.” We are fundamentally talking about a compassion and a mercy that were not shown to a community—this time in New Zealand, but sometimes at home—and a justice that we now need to extend to members of our own community who feel that they do not have access to the same security as others. I welcome the views that will come forward from the Home Secretary and the Security Minister, and the work that they have done. We need to make sure that addressing these publishers—for that is what they are—who are putting up, or tolerating the publication of, online hate material is absolutely the first line of defence, not the last.