Debates between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey

There have been 11 exchanges between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey

1 Tue 7th January 2020 Middle East: Security
Ministry of Defence
3 interactions (199 words)
2 Tue 9th April 2019 Rwandan Genocide: Alleged Perpetrators
Home Office
3 interactions (259 words)
3 Mon 18th March 2019 Far-right Violence and Online Extremism
Home Office
3 interactions (488 words)
4 Wed 30th January 2019 Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]
Home Office
19 interactions (4,472 words)
5 Tue 22nd January 2019 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Home Office
10 interactions (1,739 words)
6 Mon 3rd December 2018 Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]
Home Office
7 interactions (1,819 words)
7 Wed 12th September 2018 Salisbury Incident
Home Office
18 interactions (2,396 words)
8 Tue 11th September 2018 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Home Office
24 interactions (4,727 words)
9 Mon 23rd July 2018 Foreign Fighters and the Death Penalty
Home Office
3 interactions (328 words)
10 Tue 22nd May 2018 Serious Violence Strategy
Home Office
3 interactions (485 words)
11 Wed 28th March 2018 Police Funding
Home Office
3 interactions (1,042 words)

Middle East: Security

Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Tuesday 7th January 2020

(8 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Defence
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
7 Jan 2020, 3:14 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes a point about the deaths of United States personnel. We should not forget, and we should pay tribute to, the 179 UK defence personnel who died in operations in Iraq and the 454 who died in operations in Afghanistan. He will remember, like me, that many of the tragic deaths of UK personnel in Iraq happened in Basra, where the Shi’a militia were supported and instigated by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard

I thank the Secretary of State for his statement, in particular his emphasis on de-escalating tension, and acknowledge his genuine expertise on Iran. Given how damaging the Iraq war was to security in the middle east and given the Government’s support for reducing tension, will he now rule out any British involvement in any attack on any site in Iran?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
7 Jan 2020, 3:14 p.m.

I am not going to rule out anything. The UK will do what it has to do to defend its persons—its citizens—wherever it needs to; that is our duty. We cannot say what is in the minds of Iran or anybody else in the future, and that is why we will always reserve our right to take that decision at the time.

Rwandan Genocide: Alleged Perpetrators

Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Tuesday 9th April 2019

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 1:01 p.m.

I agree with my hon. Friend that we need to send a strong message. I do not like, any more than he does, seeing in the newspapers that people are living freely in this country having had their extradition effectively turned down, which is why I would like to see, in general—I will not comment on this case—people in this country who have potentially perpetrated a war crime to be persecuted and prosecuted themselves.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 1:02 p.m.

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?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 1:03 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that if the police require more money, for this or any other issue, they can come to the Home Office—either they internally prioritise or they come to us to see what we can do. We stand ready to do that. I know from my discussions with the police on this issue that this is not about resource; it is about the complexity of the case itself. Some of these cases are incredibly complex, and the challenge of untangling them is one of the reasons it takes time.

Far-right Violence and Online Extremism

Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Monday 18th March 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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

I feel that the best way for us to deal with Prevent is to publish the statistics about who is referred, how it works and what the outcomes are. No doubt when there is an independent review of Prevent it can examine all the evidence from both sides and take a view. The only observation I have about Prevent is this. I have listened to the critics, some of whom are my friends, over the past two and a half years, and when they explain, they often just explain the Prevent policy but worry about its name. It cannot just be about the name; it has to be about the substance as well. I see good results in Prevent. Over the past three years, I have seen hundreds of people who were really at risk of becoming terrorists being diverted from that path. I think those more than 700 people in the past three years contribute to our being a safer society.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Mar 2019, 5:14 p.m.

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?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Mar 2019, 5:15 p.m.

I condemn Islamophobia. It is racism; it is like any other type of racism. We should not even subdivide it. It is what it is. It is racism, just as antisemitism is racism. I do not need to go beyond that. Anyone who is caught doing it should be called out and dealt with, whether that is in my political party or in any other political party. I have absolutely no qualms about that. They should be dealt with.

On the definition of Islamophobia, I read the all-party group report and I looked at its definition. It is an interesting and good starting point. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary chaired on, I think, 5 March, a roundtable with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and members of the Muslim community to discuss Islamophobia and what can be done on it. We will look at the definition and at what we can do to start on that process. But all of this comes back to this: if we over-define, if we start subdividing Islamophobia and antisemitism, we forget what this is really about, which is tolerance. It is really important that we accept that we are tolerant of people. That is what underlines extremism: where people choose not to be tolerant, they start to become extremists. When they think other people are lesser, that is where we are in trouble.

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Wednesday 30th January 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:19 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman is right. Further amendments that we have tabled provide for concessions to protect journalistic data. I have taken on board these points from Members on both sides of the House. Throughout the Bill, I have met many Opposition colleagues, including my shadow, the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds), on numerous occasions, and we have offered concessions that have never been offered before. One of them will put in primary legislation a mandate for the Secretary of State to seek assurances. In my view, we cannot go beyond that and force them to get those assurances, because a responsible Government might not have the upper hand at the time or have the leverage to do that, but the necessity for security is important.

This will be the first time that that has been put in primary legislation. It will put in place a policy that existed in loose form under the last Labour Government, when, in exceptional circumstances, Ministers were allowed not to seek assurances. The overseas security and justice assistance—OSJA—guidance was published in 2010 by the coalition Government, of which I think the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) was a member. That put in writing part 9. There are occasions on which we might be allowed not to seek a death penalty assurance, but I do not want that to become the dominant force. As I have said, we have not found a single example in the past 20 years that produced this challenge or quandary for a Minister. This is simply about comms content data; that is all it is about.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:21 p.m.

I hope the Minister recognises that all Members on both sides of the House want to find ways of sharing data so that we can go after these wicked people who abuse children. Will he therefore tell us what efforts have been made, in discussions with our American friends, to find a treaty that deals with those crimes and others but stops short of those crimes that could result in the death penalty? What efforts have been made to carve out those crimes so that they could be dealt with in a second treaty?

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

I have personally asked them to look at carve-outs in that area, and I know that officials are still working on the drafts. This is my point: the treaty will come before the House when it is still in its draft stage. I have not read the draft as it stands; it is too early. This is not going to appear next Tuesday as a treaty. We will try to maintain as much as we can in the treaty, but we must recognise the leverage that we have, the generosity of the Obama Administration’s original offer and the need of our law enforcement agencies to get on with these investigations as soon as possible.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Parliament Live - Hansard

rose—

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:23 p.m.

I will press on, because I want to give the House an example. An operation commenced in August 2017 in which there were indications that a UK male suspect was using Facebook, Instagram, Gmail and Snapchat for the purpose of committing child sex offences. On the male suspect’s Facebook profile, he purports to be a teenage girl requesting friendship with teenage boys. He then engages them in sexual communication, asking them to send indecent images and/or videos of themselves committing sexual acts. The suspect sent indecent images of females sourced from the internet as bait to lure his victims into believing that they were communicating with and sharing indecent images with a teenage girl. The investigation has identified several individual Facebook accounts where indecent images of children have been sent to the user of the suspect Facebook account. Those individual accounts all belong to children.

The value of data evidence is apparent, because in that operation, the data has helped to identify in excess of 150 vulnerable child victims and enabled law enforcement to safeguard the children. However, the law enforcement agencies are still awaiting the authorisation from a judge in a US court to release the content that would enable us to prosecute and put away the individual who is doing this. Consequently, that individual is still at large. We have safeguarded the victims we know of, but our ability to charge and prosecute that person is being frustrated. We should not forget that a great deal of data is held for only 12 months, and some of the MLAT cases go on for two years or more. Not taking up the US’s offer would mean shutting the door on our police’s ability to stop abuse more quickly and to detect terror plots before they reach fruition.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:24 p.m.

I repeat that the case the Minister is making is supported on both sides of the House. I very much doubt that there will be a Division on Third Reading—certainly we on these Benches will be supporting the Bill at that time—so he does not need to make this case, because we all support him. The issue of this debate on new clause 1 and other alternatives is whether we can achieve the goals on which we all agree while also finding a way to implement existing Government policy on death penalty assurances. The Minister is recognised for working across the House—that is why he is held in such high regard—but it is our right to scrutinise legislation in this place, and in this debate we want to tease out whether we can find a way, through the treaties or through the Bill, to get those death penalty assurances that I am sure he also wants.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

I understand what the right hon. Gentleman is saying, and I do not question his heartfelt desire to ensure that we keep people safe, but actions have consequences. He does not have to believe me when I say this, but the United States has indicated to the Government that if we attach strings to the treaty in the way that the Lords amendment would, the treaty will not progress. He does not have to believe me; he does not have to believe the United States; he can decide whether he thinks the United States will change its position or not, but let me tell him my reading of it. I have met representatives from the US Department of Justice, along with my officials and representatives from our embassy, and looked at the political situation in the Senate—I live in the real world; that is not necessarily how I would vote—and I am living with the challenge of balancing those realities, as any hon. Member would do. If these amendments, including that of the right hon. Gentleman, go through, they will jeopardise the treaty. I have set out clearly what the consequence would be if the treaty were jeopardised, and no amount of “I wish it wasn’t” will change that simple fact.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

My right hon. and learned Friend, whom I have known a long time, is the straightest politician in this House and always has the best motives. He is also the lawyer that one would want at one’s side in government, because he tells it how it is, not how one wants it to be. I thank him for his point. He knows how far back this effort goes. This Bill is not a political charge or an ideological step. In fact, without this amendment, it is probably one of the most boring Bills that we have taken through the House, but it is not a playground for ideological posturing on a theoretical issue.

There is a clear choice here: take up the offer from the United States, reject the amendment and help to keep our constituents safe, or agree with the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington who believes that this matter is a problem even though there are no examples from the past 20 years. She believes that we should say no to the US offer and put the whole thing at risk because our tiny amount of data could be combined with a criminal investigation overseas, when the crime is a capital offence and the offender is in a country or US state that has the death penalty, and our data alone could be the crucial piece of evidence that leads to a conviction. If ever there was an example of politics getting in the way for the most bizarre and abstract reason, it is here.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:31 p.m.

rose—

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

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

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

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:35 p.m.

The Minister is being generous in giving way. I repeat that, as he knows, both sides of the House want exactly what he has just described. However, this House’s job is to scrutinise and ensure that legislation is being done in the right way so that other parts of Government policy are also upheld. He said in response to the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), a former Attorney General, that we should not worry about this because ECHR obligations, which he read out in some detail, would prevent Ministers from not complying with this policy. Will the Minister elaborate on that for the benefit the House? When the Home Secretary recently did not seek death penalty assurances, was that decision in line with our convention obligations?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:36 p.m.

I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the rulings by the High Court and the Lord Chief Justice. On five of the grounds for challenge from the plaintiff—if that is the right word in a civil challenge—the rulings found in favour of the Government. I am happy to have a conversation with him about that further if he reads the whole judgment, but it was certainly the case that the OSJA guidance and other things were not found to be in conflict with our ECHR obligations or any other obligation. If my memory serves me right, it was also found that we were not breaking our own Government policy on the matter. I caution the House that we do not know whether that judgment will be appealed, but a hearing related to it is ongoing. The case does not relate to data; it is about broader evidence that would remain through the MLAT process. As I pointed out earlier, extradition is a separate process. This legislation is about the data predominantly held by Facebook and Google and everything else, and it is so much part of the 21st century that we cannot escape the impact that it has on us.

Turning to amendment 18, I recall the hon. Member for Torfaen tabling something similar in Committee, and I am afraid that I am going to make the same arguments in response. Amendment 18 seeks to ensure that terms on which other states may access electronic data held in the UK mirror the UK’s own safeguards for press freedom. Forgive me, because I know that I have made this point countless times, but this amendment relates to incoming requests for UK-held data when this Bill is only about the UK’s outgoing requests for electronic data held overseas.

I completely accept the point that this Bill cannot work without a reciprocal international agreement in place, but amendment 18 directly relates to international agreements, as opposed to what our Bill provides for. This Bill is simply not the right place to mandate what is a right and laudable protection for journalists and their data. We cannot impose such conditions in advance of the negotiations of an international agreement. It is not a constructive proposition to tie our hands. I say to Opposition Members that I hear the case for change and that the United States’ first amendment is probably one of the strongest journalistic protections, so that would no doubt be reflected in a treaty. Of course, the UK would never agree to share data with a country with insufficient safeguards, but to mandate that on the face of this Bill is neither helpful nor necessary. Amendment 18 seeks to control the UK Government’s negotiating position, which would not prove desirable to any Government of the day.

Another point that I make repeatedly is to remind hon. Members that they will get ample opportunity to scrutinise any international agreement when the agreement is brought before Parliament, before it can be ratified under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 process, and then again when secondary legislation is laid before Parliament designating the agreement for the purposes of clause 1 and under section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The Government amended the Bill in the other place to make it clear that only agreements to which the CRAG process applies may be designated under the Bill, so that scrutiny process must be followed in every case. Members will get the opportunity to scrutinise all international agreements related to this Bill properly before they are ratified.

I have two other brief points. First, the initial international agreement will be with the United States, as the majority of overseas CSPs are currently based there. As hon. Members will know, the US places a high regard on protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Indeed, it is enshrined in the first amendment to their constitution.

Secondly, any additional international agreement that the UK enters into in future will, of course, be based on trust, mutual respect and each country’s adherence to principles that include the rule of law, due process and judicial oversight for obtaining and handling electronic evidence with regards to serious crime. No rational Government of the day would do a deal with a country that lacked regard for the rule of law or that failed to maintain press freedom. If a CSP moved to a country with insufficient legal safeguards, I would not push the Government of the day in any way to negotiate such an agreement, and I highly doubt that Parliament would ratify such a treaty.

This Bill is not the right place for the proposals raised by amendment 18. The amendment is not necessary for the reasons I have outlined, and therefore the Government will not support it. I ask the hon. Member for Torfaen not to press it.

Amendment 10 seeks to make confidential journalistic data an excepted category of material for overseas production orders, meaning that it cannot be sought using the Bill’s powers. Amendments 9 and 11 seek to define confidential journalistic data for the purposes of the Bill. Members have previously raised concerns about confidential journalistic data under the Bill, and I do not want to pre-empt our debate on other protections for journalists, which will come later, but the Government’s concessions in this area are appropriate and proportionate. I do not think it is right that confidential journalistic data should be entirely outside the reach of law enforcement agencies.

As with the amendment tabled in Committee, amendment 10 goes further than what is currently provided for under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Although confidential journalistic material is excluded under PACE, it is accessible if certain access conditions are met.

I repeat the point I made previously. The Bill has not been drafted to mirror PACE exactly. It also takes into account provisions of the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The whole point of the Bill is to speed up the unnecessarily long, drawn out process that law enforcement agencies currently endure to get access to material to help keep our constituents safe. Of course, this in no way undermines the stringent tests that must be passed for an order to be granted in a court by a judge. The substantial value test and the public interest test will both have to be satisfied, and I will shortly come on to the further inclusion of a relevant evidence test.

Amendment 11 would carve out journalists’ communications data so that it cannot be accessed under the powers of the Bill. Such an amendment is not necessary, because clause 3(4) already precludes the possibility of obtaining communications data via an overseas production order. Where an overseas production order is sought against a telecommunications operator, the Bill will apply as if references to excepted electronic data included communications data.

The Bill has been deliberately drafted so as to avoid overlap with the existing regime for communications data under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. Should law enforcement agencies wish to obtain any form of communications data, journalistic or otherwise, they will need to proceed using existing legislation to obtain it. To be clear, this Bill does not allow for the acquisition of communications data.

I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman that journalists play a fundamental role in our society, but amendments 9 to 11 are not appropriate. This Bill will ensure that all journalists are part of the process of applying for an overseas production order when the material sought relates to them from the outset. Uniquely, they will be able to make representations to the court. I am confident that journalists will continue to be able to make a robust defence if they believe that is relevant.

Indeed, when working with the BBC on this legislation, one lawyer told my officials that not once in 10 years could he recall a court having overruled such representations. It is important that legislation drafted in the 21st century reflects the context of the day. The nature of journalism is evolving, and law enforcement officers must be able to adapt to those changes. I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman not to press amendments 9 to 11.

In Committee, colleagues including the hon. Members for Torfaen and for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) expressed concern that the tests in clause 4 do not fully replicate the tests under schedule 1 of PACE, under which there is a relevant evidence test as well as a substantial value test and a public interest test, whereas the Bill currently includes only the substantial value and public interest tests. The Bill does not contain the relevant evidence test. As I explained in Committee, the Bill replicates the production orders not only under PACE but under POCA and the Terrorism Act. Neither POCA nor the Terrorism Act requires the relevant evidence test when seeking evidence in relation to the proceeds of crime, as our law enforcement agencies will do with overseas production orders. Nevertheless, I promise to go away and consider the issues.

Break in Debate

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 3:30 p.m.

This is a very good Bill overall. It is much needed, and it is not controversial, which is why we will not vote against its Third Reading. However, our debates have shown that there is a chance to improve the Bill. Back Benchers have been able to improve the Bill, as we have seen with the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman). I strongly support his amendments, which are well judged, and I know that the BBC supports them, too. I also support Labour’s amendment 18. It is not unreasonable to expect Government to try to ensure that there are protections for journalism and free expression in these treaties, and the world would expect Britain to uphold that. We hope to get agreement across the House on those amendments.

It is a shame that there is disagreement on the death penalty assurances. The Minister has been trying to reach out, but he will know that new clause 1 is only about seeking assurance, not receiving assurances, which is the issue at the heart of this disagreement. I intervened on the Minister earlier to ask whether there had been discussions about a carve-out for the types of offence that we are worried out. I would have thought that that would be incredibly easy, because the number of death penalty executions and cases that will result in it is tiny. I therefore would have thought that the US—a very practical people—would accept a treaty with that carve-out. The amendments tabled by my party and the Labour party would enable such a carve-out to be pushed forward. That is not unreasonable.

The Minister talks about the inequality of arms, and I get that—America is rather bigger than we are—but this is not about the Americans doing us a favour. We have data to offer them, too. It may only be 1%, but they want it. They want to catch their criminals—they want to catch the bad guys, too. We have a great record of working with them, and we should continue that. It is not as one-sided as he portrayed.

Let us remember what we are trying to achieve. A huge number of people in Congress and across America are campaigning to get rid of the death penalty. Nineteen US states no longer have the death penalty, and six of those have changed their laws since 2007 because of successful campaigning. That is one reason why we should stand up for this principle. This debate is live in the US, and it is important for not only the people we are talking about but US citizens that we send this signal. In addition to the states that have got rid of the death penalty, 11 states have not executed anyone for 10 years—it is de facto not used—so that makes 30 states. The federal Government have not executed anyone since 2003. The facts do not bear out the idea that we are pushing at a closed door and that there is massive opposition in the US political system.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman makes a valid point. He also highlights how very rare this is, which goes to the point about balance. This is not just about death penalty assurances. This is about the United States Administration saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it. You want all this help and all this data, and you want us to take back foreign fighters and try them, but no sooner do we say yes than you start telling us how to do it and giving us conditions.” That is part of the overall assessment that the Government made in some other cases. In this case, the data has never been an issue in the past 20 years. That is why our judgment and the clear message from the United States Administration is that that would jeopardise the treaty.

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

I hear what the Minister says, and I know that he knows there is not a lot between us on this, because we are all trying to get to the same objectives. However, the points he makes could be argued against the US position, and because we are close allies, we could close that gap. It would not be terribly great for Senators to oppose this Bill—they have Senate ratification —as they would be held to account by their citizens for getting in the way of sharing information to catch paedophiles.

As British politicians here, from all sides and including the Minister, we should stand up for British principles. Yes, we want to catch these appalling criminals, but we must make sure that we advance justice and human rights. I do not think we should see these things as separate and deal with them separately—we can bring them together. It would be a good step for this House to stand up for this principle, which we all share and which is and has for a long time been Government policy, and say to our close friends in the US that we believe we can come to some agreement.

The Minister made it clear in his response that the treaty is still in development. The hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) talked about how a lot of people in the US, particularly in the State Department, are expecting us to do this, so it is not unreasonable that we do, and I hope that the Minister, who is highly respected across this House and whose Bill we utterly support, can understand why we are trying to make this extra push. We are doing this to help him in his negotiations.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

(Ping Pong: House of Commons)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Tuesday 22nd January 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

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.

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Monday 3rd December 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:42 p.m.

I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford). I think the Internet Watch Foundation does a fantastic job, and it is already saving lives, so everyone involved in the organisation deserves our thanks and gratitude. It is in that spirit that I rise to support this Bill and to say that the Minister was absolutely right to make his argument in the way that he did. The legislation goes beyond defeating the people involved in child sexual exploitation, and others committing horrendous nasty, violent crimes will also be caught by these important measures. Beyond that, the Bill will act against terrorism and so on, so the Government are absolutely right to pursue it.

All that is part of the way that we in this House need to support international co-operation against crime. Although this Bill will help to speed up the work that needs to be done via the courts to enable the investigatory bodies to get these criminals and hopefully stop such activities, I gently point out that the European Union already has many successful tools and instruments, and it is a shame that it looks like we are reducing our ability to use them.

However, in totally supporting the thrust of the Bill, I associate the Liberal Democrats with the gentle criticisms of the Labour and SNP Front-Bench spokesmen, who made important points about death penalty assurances and journalistic freedom that must be considered and put right in Committee and on Report. On the death penalty assurances, joint efforts between Labour and Liberal Democrat Lords secured that amendment, and it will take some proof to convince us that it is defective. Indeed, the Liberal Democrats would like to go further. Although the amendment was welcome, the fact that it relates to section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 means that there may well be other treaties involving the sharing of collected electronic data to which it may not apply. Given the significance of that, it is important that we go as far as we possibly can. The UK must oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, and we need an assurance from the Government that the law is extremely tight.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:46 p.m.

Will the right hon. Gentleman therefore clarify his party’s position if we were in a negotiation with another country and the other country said, “Look, we cannot give you the death penalty assurances”? Some 99.9% of the data requests under this Bill will be concerned with crimes of paedophilia or the other crimes that I described earlier. Should the death penalty become a bar, is the right hon. Gentleman saying that the UK should not enter into an agreement because of the rare occasions on which an offence may involve the death penalty? Would he sacrifice the 99.9% for that?

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard

The Minister is being slightly sneaky. It is quite possible to take the two issues separately and deal with them separately. It is quite easy to see how one would ensure that the welcome measures in this Bill apply to the cases to which we all want them to apply while ensuring that the death penalty assurance, which ought to unite the House, is also dealt with properly.

I am sure that the Minister understands that Opposition Members in the other place and in this place are using this point to try to ensure that the Government move on this point. He will be aware of the cases of Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh from earlier this year, in which the Home Secretary—I acknowledge that this was revealed in a leaked letter—assisted the US to prosecute them without seeking death penalty assurances. That shocked people on both sides of this House, and the Minister is absolutely aware of that concern, so it is incumbent on those on the Treasury Bench to explain to and reassure this House that that cannot reoccur and that we will find ways through such issues.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

I fully understand the right hon. Gentleman’s point. He talks about “our wish”, but he cannot speak for the other country that may be involved in forming an international agreement. They may say, “That’s fine. We know what you want, but we are not prepared to do that.” In that case, the decision becomes whether we want to use this legislation for the urgent and speedy data requests that happen 99.9% of the time for offences that are egregious and horrible but do not warrant the death penalty. He cannot speak for another country, so would he sacrifice the whole Bill?

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:49 p.m.

I am afraid that the Minister is still trying to split hairs. I am sure that no one in this House wants to get in the way of measures that will ensure that we can work with other countries to tackle criminals. Equally, however, it is incumbent on the Government to find a way to ensure that what we heard from the Home Secretary earlier this year does not happen again. The Minister is in the Government and has the officials to come forward with proposals to be able to manage both those issues.

It does not seem beyond the wit of man and the clever officials in the Home Office to produce such proposals. If he is saying that the amendment made in the other House is defective because it has the problem he is raising with me, let Home Office Ministers come to the House in Committee or on Report to show that and to produce an alternative that deals with the matter, about which I am sure he shares my concern.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:50 p.m.

My point is that the moment for the House to look at that is not when considering this Bill but when whatever treaty or international arrangement we make with whatever country we need to make it with comes before the House for scrutiny. Then we can have a debate about whether the international treaty we have sought to give effect to this order is right for the balance of risk, but the generic primary legislation that allows an order to be made is not the right vehicle.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:50 p.m.

What the Opposition parties are saying very clearly to the Minister is that he has to make that case in Committee, just as the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds), the Labour party’s Front-Bench spokesman, made clear when I intervened on this very point. The Minister should make the case, but he should also explain how the Government will deal with the problem, which has arisen because of the actions of the Home Secretary not because of the actions of the Opposition.

We are concerned about the potential for this Bill to undermine protections for the freedom of the press. To be generous to the Government, what I think has happened is that, in pursuing a laudable aim that we all support, they went to the statute book and said, “Which statutes can we copy and paste to enable us to meet our objectives?” Rather than looking carefully at how, in domestic law, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 has carefully nuanced the use of the Terrorism Act 2000, Home Office officials, possibly because of the culture in the Home Office, just cut and pasted mainly from the Terrorism Act. That may have been a mistake, and there may have been no deliberate intention for it to have the consequences that now appear before us, so I gently say that I hope the Minister will go away and think about this. I invite him to meet hon. and right hon. Opposition Members, as well as representatives of the media to hear in detail the genuine concerns not just of BBC lawyers but of lawyers representing other media organisations.

We have heard from other Members about the issue of the relevant evidence test, which is in our domestic law and has been carefully developed over a period of years, but that test will not be applied to protect journalists with respect to material that comes from their investigations abroad. That is quite worrying if one looks at the practical examples. Take the case of Mark Duggan, for example. He was shot by the police in Tottenham in 2011, and the BBC obtained mobile phone footage of the aftermath from a witness. The BBC was ordered to turn over the footage and, because it was relevant evidence, the footage was handed over. Then an application was made for information that would reveal the identity of the source of that footage. The person who had shot the footage was understandably concerned for their safety, and the BBC successfully opposed the application by pointing to the relevant evidence test in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. That test is not in the Bill, so there is a clear example that, by not being as subtle in this legislation as we are in our domestic legislation, there is a danger that journalistic freedom, as exercised abroad, will be curtailed.

The point about the notices is relevant, and it should worry the Minister because the way that notices work under domestic legislation is very helpful not just to journalists but to the police. Sometimes when the police put a notice to a journalistic organisation, that organisation will go back to the police and say, “You are asking for a huge amount, and we don’t really think it is necessary for your investigation. Let us enter a dialogue with you to narrow down your search so you can get information that will really help you, and therefore you will not have to waste so much time.” The notice actually turns out to be helpful in speeding up investigations. Given that that is the whole purpose of this Bill, the Minister should go away and look at that.

Moreover, it is not just about thinking of the police’s point of view in speeding things up; it is also about making sure the police know whether the evidence exists. The way some notices work at the moment is that the police go on a fishing trip. There is the example from Durham police, which applied to the BBC without notice. Durham police was eventually told that it could not do that and that, if it had submitted a notice, it would have learned that the material no longer existed. Again, the BBC was trying to save police time.

Some of the carefully constructed domestic law needs to be put into this internationally applying legislation in order to help the police and security services, not just journalists. I am sure this is just an unintended consequence, and I am sure there is no malice, so I hope this is the sort of issue that can be settled by a few meetings and a few amendments that garner support from both sides of the House. That is how scrutiny should operate in this Parliament, and I hope the Minister, with his usual generosity, will be open-minded to that approach.

Salisbury Incident

Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Wednesday 12th September 2018

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. I am trying to be as pragmatic and as accurate as possible about my view. I made it clear what my view was of the particular statement by the Leader of the Opposition. I have also said that I do not characterise that as the collective view of the Labour party. We will see what the statements are, and they may be different from the response that we heard last week. But I want to move on. I said that that was the only political point I was going to make, because it was important, but I want to move on now to where we have got with the investigation.

Following the work of the police and the intelligence services, which identified these individuals, the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there was sufficient basis on which to bring charges against the two men for the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on that day. The two men identified by police are also the prime suspects in the poisoning of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley. Our world-class experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down and the OPCW have confirmed that the exact same chemical nerve agent was used in both cases. The two incidents now form a single investigation, and there is no other line of inquiry.

The security and intelligence agencies have carried out their own investigations into the organisation behind the attack. Based on that work, the Government have concluded that the two individuals named by the police and the CPS are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, which is a highly disciplined organisation with a clear and effective chain of command.

This was not a rogue operation. The attack was almost certainly approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state. Although I cannot go into operational detail about the work of our security and intelligence agencies, I can say that this conclusion is based on a clear body of intelligence.

This was a despicable act in which a deadly and illegal nerve agent known as Novichok was used on the streets of Britain. I know the whole House will join me in recognising the remarkable resilience shown by the people of Salisbury in the face of this act. The Government stand ready to assist Salisbury in getting back to normal. We have released £7.5 million to support business and tourism in the town and a further £5 million to support the cost of policing. I know that, throughout this process, my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (John Glen) has been keenly and eagerly active in making sure that Salisbury, along with the county council, gets the resource and support it needs to deal with this.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:03 p.m.

I want to take the Minister back to how we counter the Russian threat to security in this country and elsewhere. As Secretary of State for Energy in March 2015, I used powers never used before to force the sale by LetterOne of its North sea oil assets. This was in the context of Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia. Following the terrorist outrage in Salisbury, are the Government looking at using powers such as unexplained wealth orders to investigate the cronies of Putin whose presence here brings our country into disrepute and does not help the fight against Russian aggression?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:04 p.m.

I will get to my response later on, but the right hon. Gentleman makes the point that we have to deal with Russian state aggression across a wide front. We have said that we will use all legal powers within the rule of law to push back the malign action of the Russian state. The Criminal Finances Act 2017, which had cross-party support, gives us tools to deal with illicit finance. It is a fact that some of the two biggest flows of illicit finance into this country come from Russia and China. Therefore, it is obvious that we will be looking in those areas and making sure that we deal with such illicit activity, but we also look elsewhere. I cannot comment on individual investigations, but where we see a break in the law, whether it be illicit finance or any other type of malign activity, we will act using those powers and push it back.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:16 p.m.

We have made it very clear that we will use the powers set out in the Act. I am not going to say that we are about to fire a starting gun or say, “Here’s the list.” That will be for the Foreign Secretary and the Government collectively. We now have the power to act through our sanctions Act. We will not hesitate to use it, and there is more to come. I am trying to ensure that the legislation coming before the House over the next few months will include serious crime as a factor for laying a sanction, because it is important to see what the Americans have done around cyber-crime and serious organised criminals in that space.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:16 p.m.

Will the Minister give way?

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:16 p.m.

No, I am going to move on.

We introduced many provisions in the Criminal Finances Act 2017. They included asset-freezing orders, of which we have used many, and unexplained wealth orders, which we used within six weeks against what I shall describe as an overseas individual—obviously the court decides how much I can tell hon. Members about individuals—and there are more in the pipeline. I know that Members are impatient to know why we cannot just issue lots of unexplained wealth orders. The simple reason is that the provision became law at the beginning of this year. We used it very quickly and we have to work it through the judiciary. At the high end, the oligarchs and their type use lawyers, and lots of them, to test these things. The wheels grind and there are more orders in the pipeline, but we have to ensure that this is tested, that the judiciary gets used to it and that we learn from the first use—which, by the way, has gone well to date.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:17 p.m.

The Minister is absolutely right; I found that the legal issues around the use of such orders requires a little bit of time, and I have sympathy with him on that point. However, can he at least reassure the House that the Government are absolutely determined to use unexplained wealth orders and other powers to chase down dirty money and stop Britain being used as a haven for it?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:17 p.m.

There is a reason why my title has changed from Minister of State for Security to Minister for Security and Economic Crime. The Prime Minister said not so long ago in a speech that she is determined to step up the response to illicit finance in this country and target those individuals. We have put some resource behind that. We have put in place the National Economic Crime Centre, and we are absolutely targeting and driving investigations in that area in a much more aggressive way than in the past. I have been very clear with the National Crime Agency and the other agencies that this is about targeted cases and sending messages, but it is also about going after facilitators—those who allow those crooks to enjoy their money in London. We must ensure that we deal with them all—not just the far-distant crime baron, but the smart, perhaps sharp-suited individuals who think they are just helping and not really engaged, but who in fact are absolutely corrupting our system, littering our streets with dirty money and then allowing those crooks to enjoy it.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:20 p.m.

Tempting as my hon. Friend’s suggestion is, vilifying people who carry out the role of defending plaintiffs is not how we do business in this country. We are not Russia. Reputation is clearly important to some of those companies, and no doubt they will bear that in mind. However, everyone has a right to a defence. It is up to us to make sure that the law is in the right place to deal with this.

I fully expect that in some of these cases we will be successful, while in others we will probably try but not be successful. That is partly because of the myriad facilitators, shell companies, foreign jurisdictions and corrupt jurisdictions that this money comes through. One challenge is that in some cases the money is already cleaned when it comes here. It is not being washed here; it is cleaned, has come into the system, and has bought nice houses and everything else. That is why we squeeze at one end with the unexplained wealth orders and the asset-cleaning orders, which have also been used quite successfully recently, and then, at the other end, we have better regulation through the use of the suspicious activity reports regime. That regime has, for far too long, been in need of reform to make sure that people are making those reports when they see suspicious activities. I see some horrendous stories where people have handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and people have not thought that it is remotely suspicious, so have not made any report. People have bought houses with cash, and somehow some estate agents have not thought that that is remotely suspicious. There is an obligation—a legal obligation—on them to report these issues. Funnily enough, when we follow up on those cash purchases, they are, more often than not, a dodgy purchase.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:21 p.m.

The Minister is describing a situation where the people who wish to do our country harm are very creative and have very expensive advisers to quickly get round the rules. Can he assure this House that the economic crime unit that he described in a previous answer to me will, within the law, be as creative as possible to chase down these people?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:22 p.m.

I can give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance. The key point about the unit being part of the National Crime Agency, within a policing and intelligence-led environment, is that a target-led investigation is often about bringing to bear more than just criminal charges. It is often about disruption and discouragement—using the whole paraphernalia of the state to make life difficult, to recover assets, or to persuade people to go elsewhere. It has to be about everything, partly because of the scale of this. It does not matter how well we fund it—the scale of illicit finance throughout the world is so large that we have to pick our targets well and develop the case around them.

I have no doubt, though, that in dealing with illicit finance, especially illicit finance that has come here from Russia, for example, the National Crime Agency has the right people with the right skill set to deliver, and the right leadership under its director general, Lynne Owens. We have already had arrests and progressed a number of cases, and I think that over the next few months, or maybe years, we will see some results. The message has certainly already gone out in the City that, through the use of the unexplained wealth orders and having them on our statute book, we are stepping up and taking this seriously. In my conversations with the United States Government, I find that they are delighted to engage with us and to help us in finding international money launderers. We are helping each other to make sure that people do not hide in different jurisdictions.

As the Prime Minister said last week, we have repeatedly asked the Russians to account for what happened in Salisbury in March. I am afraid that I have to report that our requests were met with obfuscation and lies. They responded with disinformation on an industrial scale. They tried to blame terrorists, our international partners, and the United Kingdom itself. They have accused “English gentlemen” of killing those whom they consider to be beneath them, as one of the theories of what happened. They have tried to blame the future mother-in-law of Yulia Skripal. They have even tried to blame the Prime Minister herself. This deluge of disinformation merely reinforces their guilt and does them no favours whatsoever.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:24 p.m.

It is just good energy policy for any country not to be dependent on one single source, either because of political exposure or just because of differences on energy. It is really important that we always make sure that our energy policy is diverse. Obviously, our European partners have tried to do the same, and I would urge them to continue with that.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:25 p.m.

As Secretary of State for Energy, working at the EU Energy Council, I helped the European Commission to draft Europe’s energy security strategy, which is very much aimed at reducing Europe’s dependence on imports of Russian fossil fuels. That is good for climate change and good for security. Can the Minister assure the House that after Brexit, that level of influence on Europe’s energy policy will be there in some other way, because by being at the table we were able to hit Putin in the pocket very effectively?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 2:26 p.m.

I think that, in the middle of the negotiations, that is what we are trying to do. Our relationship with Europe post Brexit is not just about taking or giving—it is still going to be a partnership. Our security will be a partnership. Our relationships with NATO and many of the countries in NATO will be a partnership. On strategic issues like energy, it is in the interests of both the European continent, as it will be then, and us to have that strategic dialogue. We will need each other for energy policy whether we are in or out of the European Union. I would certainly share the right hon. Gentleman’s view that we must continue to work at delivering that.

This was a chemical weapons attack that left four people fighting for their lives and one innocent woman dead. I know that the thoughts of the House will be with the friends and family of Dawn Sturgess, in particular. We will never stop pursuing justice for Dawn Sturgess and other victims, nor will we ever stop pursuing the people responsible for this malign attack. As the Prime Minister told this House last week, were the two suspects within our jurisdiction, there would be a clear basis in law for their arrest for murder.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Tuesday 11th September 2018

(2 years ago)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because they have done something wrong.

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

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

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

Break in Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break in Debate

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.

Foreign Fighters and the Death Penalty

Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Monday 23rd July 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Jul 2018, 4:05 p.m.

My right hon. and learned Friend, having produced plenty of advices in his previous role as Attorney General to Her Majesty’s Government, will recognise the challenges that Ministers face in balancing the need for making the decision about trial—[Interruption.] Opposition Members chunter from a sedentary position. The reality, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, is that we all desire these people to face trial. If Ministers are faced with the prospect of not being able to try them in the United Kingdom but an ally seeks evidence that could lead to them being tried, Ministers have an obligation to the citizens of this country to balance that request and the likelihood of trial with the extent to which they will seek assurances, if we think that is important for keeping people safe in the United Kingdom. In this case, Ministers have made the decision that we are not going to seek assurances, because we do not think we have the evidence here to try them in the United Kingdom and we hope that a trial will be carried out in the United States. That is the balance. My right hon. and learned Friend may disagree with the balance we have chosen to take, but that is the responsibility of the Ministers holding the onerous task of trying to keep us safe, while balancing that with human rights.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard
23 Jul 2018, 4:05 p.m.

Why did Ministers not seek death penalty assurances?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Jul 2018, 4:06 p.m.

Because we are interested in seeking criminal justice in line with international law and our law. Where we feel the assurance might get in the way of being able to do that—[Interruption.] No, no; if the right hon. Gentleman faced the choice of either having to see these people go free and potentially wander around his constituency or go to trial, he might take a different view. In this case, Ministers looked at the request before them and, acting lawfully and in line with the OSJA, chose to take that decision.

Serious Violence Strategy

Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Tuesday 22nd May 2018

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 May 2018, 2:21 p.m.

I welcome the statement over the weekend from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on consulting on measures to remove both illegal and legal harms from the internet, and on the exposure of people, certainly young people, to those harms on the internet. I would welcome any suggestions from either side of the House, and the Home Office, alongside DCMS, will tackle those harms.

I met Google this morning to discuss how it can do more to take down violence-inspiring videos. The level of violence to which my young children are exposed quite early in the day on television, let alone the internet, will come back to haunt us.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard
22 May 2018, 2:21 p.m.

In his answer to the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook), the Minister said that he was not blind to the idea of resources, particularly in relation to London and the real crisis that is happening in our city. Will he give us a little more hope because, like the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich and many London Members here, I worry about the trend continuing into the summer months?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 May 2018, 2:24 p.m.

In the Home Office we are always open to listening to more demands. After Manchester last year I, as Security Minister, received a demand from Mark Rowley and the head of MI5, and we worked hard at the Treasury to get £50 million of extra money to respond to the operational pressures.

It is not just London. Merseyside MPs saw a spate of murders and gun crime at the start of last year. There is a real pressure that we have to try to address. Of course the Home Office will work with colleagues to see where we can get more out of the resources we have.

We have found more resources. We have put £49 million into the strategy, and we have put more money into some of the broader responses, including local government and community responses. We will work with the Mayor of London, with whom we will discuss what his priorities may or may not be, on which we may or may not agree.

I wish I had more money. We did not come into Government to cut things. There is sometimes a suggestion that we had a choice and we chose not to spend money. We will try to do our best to meet the resources, but burden share is important, and it is the same in other growing areas of crime. We cannot arrest our way out of some of these things. We have to burden share, and we are doing a whole range of things. A new contest will be launched in the next few weeks and, in order to meet the growing scale of the threat, we have to burden share with both the private sector and the public sector on keeping us safe on the ground. That is the scale we face not just here but internationally.

Police Funding

Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and Sir Edward Davey
Wednesday 28th March 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) - Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 7:19 p.m.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Mansfield (Ben Bradley)—not least because I was born in his constituency, although I am a Magpies fan rather than a Stags fan.

It is worth the whole House reflecting on the bravery of our police officers. We saw that bravery a year ago when PC Keith Palmer gave his life protecting this Palace and the people who were around it. Also in our thoughts is Nick Bailey, an officer who went to the help of the Russian people who were poisoned. I am sure that other Members attend local police award ceremonies, and hear about the bravery of policemen and women on a daily basis. Those officers have our support, our thoughts and our thanks.

The Minister for Policing and the Fire Service talked about the need for a quality debate, and I think that that is important. For instance, I think it important for us to look at the crime figures in detail, which I tried to do in my intervention on the Minister. I welcomed his admission that there are serious crimes—which are better recorded in police recorded crime data and the crime survey—that are going up. In London, we are seeing gun crime go up, knife crime go up, violent crime go up. In my constituency, we are seeing burglaries go up, and in a pretty nasty way. One or two Asian families in Tolworth have been victims of aggravated burglary: people have gone into their homes with weapons and threatened them in order to take gold from them as they sat in their own front rooms. It is quite shocking. It is necessary to focus on crime of that sort, because it is the crime that is going up.

When we talk about the need to invest in the police, we should bear in mind that it is not just about reducing crime, vital though that is, but also about solving crime. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh) was right to point out that there are 2.1 million unsolved crimes in Britain today, and the inspectorate says that we are short of 5,000 detectives. When there are so many unsolved crimes and so few detectives to solve them, that sends a very bad signal to the criminals. We can reduce crime if people realise that they will be caught. If the deterrent effect is reduced because criminals do not think they will be caught because of the lack of detectives and the number of unsolved crimes, that sows the seeds for rising crime in the future.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 7:22 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has made an important point about detective numbers. Just to help him and make sure he understands, let me explain that the shortage of detectives is based on an establishment. It is not that 5,000 have been taken out of the system. There is a problem recruiting people to choose to be detectives as opposed to being in uniform, which is their current preference.

Sir Edward Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey - Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 7:22 p.m.

I thank the Minister for that clarification, but my point remains the same, and I am speaking on behalf of the inspectorate rather than from a party perspective. I hope that he will take on board what I have said.

We also need to think about the part played by the police not just in reducing and solving crime, but in preventing it. The police, and community police, have so many other roles, such as building community relations and filling in the gaps for other services that are not there. It is those functions, which cannot actually be measured, that communities so value. They are now being taken away, and people feel that quite deeply in their communities. If we are to have the serious debate that the police Minister wanted, I hope he will reflect on the other issues that are not always reflected in the figures, but are vital to our recognition of the extent to which the public value the police in the many roles that they undertake.

The crime figures show that the victims of crime are disproportionately the less well off, and disproportionately the more vulnerable. The case for investing in the police is not just about tackling the criminals; it is about social justice. There are issues that go beyond reducing crime, such as looking after the most vulnerable and the least well off in society. I hope that the Minister will take that on board as well.

Let me now say something about resources. I was pleased to hear the police Minister confirm that the number of police officers had fallen significantly. Since May 2015, my constituency has lost more than 50 officers—10% of the local police force— and people have felt the impact of that. Since returning to the House from my unintended leave of absence, and returning to work in my constituency, I have been quite surprised by the inability of the police to respond as quickly as they used to.

We have seen that in the figures on 999 and 101 calls: in London and in many other areas around England, forces are just not able to respond quickly enough, including to very serious calls. That should trouble the Minister. We also see it in severe antisocial behaviour in communities that is just being ignored. As a local Member of Parliament, I have had to get involved with housing associations, the council and the police to make them take notice of serious behaviour that is completely undermining the quality of life of many of my constituents. These are critical issues.

I intervened on the Policing Minister at the beginning of the debate to ask whether he agreed that Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, had said on the record that the Prime Minister was misleading the public in talking about the £450 million increase. I am afraid that the Minister claimed he would deal with the issue in his later remarks, but he did not. We are talking about an important clarification from an independent statistics body about claims made not only by the Prime Minister but in tweets from the Home Office. If we are to have the serious debate that the Minister said he wanted, I hope there will be no more such false claims.