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Q5. [152114] Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend commit to boosting UK manufacturing by making a commitment to the new aircraft carriers that are much needed by the Royal Navy, and by ensuring that those platforms will have
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UK-built aircraft? If the joint strike fighter transfer does not go ahead, will he ensure that the Typhoon operates from those carriers?

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has always taken an interest in the ordering of aircraft carriers. The announcement on them is being eagerly awaited in Portsmouth, Glasgow, Rosyth and Barrow and, indeed, throughout the UK maritime industry. This is a major project for the future of the shipbuilding industry, and a major addition to the strategic strength of the Royal Navy, and I hope that he will be pleased by the announcement that the Defence Secretary is going to make in a few minutes.

Q6. [152115] Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): The Government’s first election manifesto outlined plans for Scotland and stated:

Given that we now have a separatist leader of the Scottish Executive and given the increasing resentment in England about the imbalance in funding and voting between Scotland and England, what positive proposals does the Prime Minister have for dealing with that—or is he just in denial?

The Prime Minister: I have to tell the right hon. Gentleman that in both the Scottish and Welsh elections, nearly 70 per cent. of voters voted against separatist parties. Even after the elections that he
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referred to, there is no majority for separation and no majority for independence in either Scotland or Wales. I would have thought that the Conservative party had learned its lesson on these issues. When the leader of the Conservative party is in Scotland, he says that he supports devolution wholeheartedly, but when he is in England, he says that he has doubts about whether it should happen at all. [Interruption.] Oh yes. I believe that the Conservative party should make up its mind and support the Union and devolution.

Q7. [152116] Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): Is it fair that 1.8 million children in this country grow up in poverty because they live in a household where nobody works? That is the single biggest issue in my constituency and the Rhondda. Is it not time that we did far more to ensure that every child gets an opportunity in life, and that we got more people off benefits and into work, so that we could break the vicious circle whereby poverty cascades down through the generations?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. When the employment figures were published last week, 29 million people were in work—2.5 million more than in 1997. That is as a result of the new deal—opposed by the Conservative party; the minimum wage—opposed by the Conservative party; and new measures in public expenditure—opposed by the Conservative party. We will continue to do the right thing to create jobs in this country.

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National Security

12.32 pm

The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): With permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall make a statement. On 29 and 30 June, the professionalism, vigilance and courage of our police and our security and emergency services thwarted a conspiracy to murder and maim British citizens. Britain—led by London and Glasgow —stood firm in the face of threats. Our calmness and steadfastness as a nation sent a powerful message across the world that we will not yield to terrorism, or ever be intimidated by it.

Those events were the 15th attempted terrorist plot on British soil since 2001. As previously set out, the police and security services are currently having to contend with around 30 known plots, and monitor more than 200 groupings or networks and about 2,000 individuals. I think that the whole House will agree that our country—and all countries—has to confront a generation-long challenge to defeat al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist violence.

In recognition of that continuing long-term threat, we have created, among other things, a new national security committee to oversee the new office for security and counter-terrorism. Following the first meetings of the national security committee, I want to report on changes that we now recommend.

First, let me confirm to the House that in future we will publish a national security strategy, and that the first will be published and presented in the autumn to Parliament for debate and decision in this House. At the time of the spending review, we will announce a single security budget for our country. In line with the Butler report, we will separate the position of chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee from policy adviser to the Government. Thus, the sole responsibilities of the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee will be to provide Ministers with assessments that have been formulated independently of the political process and to improve across Government the effectiveness of intelligence analysis.

Today, I am also publishing the Intelligence and Security Committee report on rendition and the Government are consulting on how in future the ISC should be appointed and should report to Parliament—where possible, with hearings in public, a strengthened capacity for investigations, reports that are subject to more parliamentary debate and greater transparency over appointments to the Committee.

To strengthen the counter-terrorist capability of the police and security services, we have, since 11 September, doubled our overall investment to more than £2 billion a year. Dedicated anti-terrorist resources have also doubled. Even in advance of the spending review settlement for future years, the Security Service will, by next year, be twice the size it was in 2001.

The protection and resilience of our major infrastructure and crowded places requires continuous vigilance. I can confirm that over 900 shopping centres, sports stadiums and venues where people congregate have been assessed by counter-terrorism security
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advisers, over 10,000 premises have been given updated security advice, and the police will continue high-visibility patrols.

The counter-terrorism Bill will also include a new power allowing the Secretary of State to ensure additional protection for key utility sites. We have asked Lord West to oversee, over this summer, a further overview of how best we protect crowded places and our buildings and national infrastructure, from roads, railways and tunnels to bridges, water systems and utilities.

Since 1997, the Government have given the police new resources and Parliament has provided new legal powers to arrest and try terrorists. Thanks to the hard work, dedication and commitment of the men and women in the police, security and intelligence services and the prosecuting authorities, this year alone, in nine cases, a total of 30 individuals have been convicted. The forthcoming counter-terrorism Bill will propose additional penalties for terrorists charged with other criminal offences.

Our first line of defence against terrorism is overseas at other countries’ ports and airports where people embark on journeys to our country and from where embassies issue visas. To protect us in routes and places where there is the greatest threat of harm, I believe that we now need to accelerate our plans, completing the move from old and ineffective paper-based systems to real-time monitoring, which will allow us to act immediately and in a co-ordinated way across immigration, police, and intelligence.

The way forward is electronic screening of all passengers as they check in and out of the country at ports and airports, so that terrorist suspects can be identified and stopped before they board planes, trains and boats to the United Kingdom. After a review of counter-terrorism screening, and as part of the overall spending settlement for security to be set out in the autumn, the Home Secretary will enhance the existing e-borders programme to incorporate all passenger information to help to track and intercept terrorists and criminals, as well as, of course, illegal immigrants.

While new biometric visas are already in place for immigrants from high-risk countries, I can confirm that within nine months—from March next year—we will extend biometric visas to all visa applicants. From 2009, we will introduce a new, enhanced system of electronic exit control, linking the checking of passports to checking against the warnings index.

The second line of defence is at our borders, where biometrics—not just fingerprints but iris recognition—are already in use. To strengthen the powers and surveillance capability of our border guards and security officers, we will now integrate the vital work of the Border and Immigration Agency, Customs and UKvisas overseas and at the main points of entry to the UK, and we will establish a unified border force.

I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to report back by October on the stages ahead in implementation and whether there is a case for going further while ensuring value for money, but as a result of our announcement today, the first change that people will see is that, starting from next month when arriving in Britain, they will be met at the border—either sea port or airport—by a highly visible, uniformed presence, as
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over the next period we move, for the first time, to one single primary checkpoint for both passport control and customs.

But this, our second line of defence, has also to be complemented by a third line of defence—ID security within our own borders. While for UK citizens the first biometric ID cards will start during 2009, from the end of 2008 any foreign nationals coming to the UK for more than six months will be required to have a biometric ID. Such an identity scheme will help to prevent people already in the country from using multiple identities for terrorist, criminal or other purposes.

In the identification of potential terrorist suspects, there should also be maximum co-operation internationally, with maximum possible use made of alerts and watch lists. While Lord West’s review has found no systematic failings in our procedures for checking potential suspects, it has highlighted the importance of enhancing existing co-operation to share more information between police and immigration services and internationally across countries: within the European Union, to enable British law enforcement authorities to access immigration information on existing European Union databases; bilaterally with other member states, mutually to exchange information; and joining up criminal records databases throughout the EU, so that our authorities can quickly identify individuals who are charged with crimes, no matter where in Europe they are convicted. At a cost of £5 million, we will link the UK watch list to the Interpol database of lost and stolen documents.

In addition to the nine foreign nationals recently deported under immigration powers on grounds of national security, a further 21 foreign nationals are currently subject to deportation proceedings on national security grounds. On the same grounds, we are preventing 124 individuals from coming to our country and refusing to admit another 52 for glorifying terrorism or other unacceptable behaviour. Overall, 4,000 foreign prisoners are likely to be deported from our country this year. We have agreed repatriation arrangements with Jordan, Libya, Lebanon and Algeria, and we will now press ahead to sign more agreements.

Liberty is the first and founding value of our country, and security is the first duty of Government. The British way is that every measure we take to enhance security is complemented by additional protections against any arbitrary treatment and in defence of the liberties of the individual. We want to consult widely, and we seek—and look forward to obtaining—an all-party consensus on how we treat intercept evidence and on new provisions for pre-charge detention and post-charge questioning. The independent and cross-party review into the use of intercept as evidence in court will be led by Sir John Chilcot, and its members will include the Privy Councillors Lord Archer of Sandwell, Lord Hurd and the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith).

While it is already a criminal offence to seek training for terrorism overseas or in this country, we will consult on tightening bail conditions, and in particular on restriction of travel, in any cases where people are suspected of complicity in terrorism. We have in place a
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regime that allows pre-charge detention for up to 28 days. There is general agreement that the circumstances in which the police might need to go beyond even 14 days will be rare, and that will be subject to special procedures of both judicial oversight and parliamentary accountability. I detect that there is also a growing weight of opinion—including from Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation—that there might be some circumstances in which detention beyond 28 days is necessary, such as if the police have to intervene early to avert an attack, if huge quantities of material evidence need to be analysed, or if assistance from other countries is necessary.

The 2005 case cited in previous debates on this issue involved investigation of some 60 mobile phones, 268 computers, and 920 DVDs. However, the airline investigation last August involved 200 mobile phones, 400 computers, 8,000 CDs, DVDs and other discs containing 6,000 gigabytes of data, almost 70 premises searches, and inquiries across three continents. Another case involved 3,000 statements, the examination of 6,000 documents, more than 8,000 exhibits and inquiries across nine countries. During the recent period—I must make this clear to Members, in the light of a radio debate this morning—six people had to be held for 27 or 28 days.

While one of our proposals, which enjoys broad support, to allow post-charge questioning for the explicit purpose of securing evidence in a terrorism trial will reduce the risk that we will need to go beyond 28 days, the Home Affairs Committee concluded that that step will not entirely eliminate the risk. It is right to explore whether a consensus can be built on the most measured way to deal with the remaining risk. I hope that Members will agree that we should not return to the previous proposal rejected by the House, but I also hope that they will agree that there must be a maximum limit—and that that should be set by Parliament.

We today put forward four options for consultation over the coming months. One proposal that we cite in the consultation document from Liberty, to which we are grateful for engaging constructively in the debate, is that if this risk materialises, we should declare an emergency under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and allow for a period beyond the 28-day limit, for up to a further 30 days, although that would require the declaration of a state of emergency. We are also proposing for consultation—this would not require a state of emergency—an extension of the current limit for up to 28 days more or a lesser period but only if, in addition to the requirement that a judge must approve every seven-day extension, the case is notified to Parliament and subject to a timely report to it of all circumstances, and with the option of a later parliamentary debate.

This therefore means that any extension would be subject not only to a specific case being made by the Director of Public Prosecutions, subject every seven days, up to the agreed limit, to the approval of a High Court judge, and subject to the regular report of the independent reviewer, with an annual debate in Parliament but, in each and every instance, to a specific parliamentary notification procedure, to a further statement to Parliament on the individual case, and to a review of the specific case by the independent reviewer, with the provision for this House to scrutinise and debate the report and all the circumstances.

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More important even than consensus here in the House is the consensus that we seek in all communities across the country. Since the attacks of 7 July 2005, communities in Britain and across the world have come together in a common front against terrorism and against the propaganda that fuels it. This requires not just the security measures we are outlining today, but that we work with all communities—and, indeed, all countries—through debate, discussion, dialogue and education as we tackle at root the evils that risk driving people, particularly vulnerable young people, into the hands of violent extremists. Here, schools, colleges, universities, civil society, faith groups—indeed, every institution in our country—have a part to play.

Last week, President Sarkozy of France and I agreed to propose the formation of a joint working group with Germany and other countries to share our experiences and develop ways to expose and defeat terrorism. We will report later this year on this work, but we can make a start today. Over the next three years, we will provide an additional £70 million for local authorities and community groups to improve the capacity of local communities in our country to resist violent extremism. This will include developing leadership programmes for young people, strengthening the capacity of women’s groups, and local projects to build citizenship. There are perhaps as many as 1,000 madrassahs in Britain, educating more than 50,000 to 100,000 young people in after-school classes. In Bradford, an agreement was reached to include citizenship education in their curriculum, and we will now offer to work with other communities on similar programmes.

We will also support a new skills qualification in citizenship and community cohesion for faith leaders. We will sponsor English-speaking imams and propose inter-faith bodies for every community in the country to build greater understanding. We will update guidance to universities before the autumn on how they can do more to protect the safety and security of vulnerable young people in particular. I can also confirm funding for a BBC Arabic channel, and an editorially independent Farsi TV channel that will broadcast to the people of Iran. Following further discussion on these and other issues, the Government will report back to Parliament on further measures that can isolate extremists who preach and practise terrorism.

Our priority as a Government is a Britain strong in security, robust in our resolve and resilient in response, so that as a nation we both defeat terrorism and isolate violent extremism, wherever we confront it and whatever its support. I hope that in doing so, an all-party consensus that will extend into every community of this country is possible, so that together we can create a stronger, safer and more cohesive United Kingdom. I commend this statement to the House.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement, and I very much agree with what he said in praising the police, the security services and the public for what they did to combat those terrorist attacks. This is an area, of course, where we can and will work together. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that the threat we face from terrorism today is of a different order from the
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threats we faced in the past? It requires tough, consistent and rigorous action at every level: intelligence and surveillance, tackling extremism, effective policing—including at our borders—and taking all the public with us. It is not just about passing new laws.

On intercept evidence, I welcome the fact that the Prime Minister has accepted our proposal for a Privy Council committee. Will he pledge to legislate immediately if the committee can find a way to lift the ban on the use of this vital evidence in court? We welcome the single security budget, but can he confirm whether spending for special branch, which carries out much of the vital surveillance work done around the country, is included in that budget, because that urgently needs to expand?

When the right hon. Gentleman was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he took the decision to freeze the Home Office budget. Now that that Department has been split in two and he has become Prime Minister, will he revisit that decision?

One of our major concerns on ID cards is that costs are spiralling and the project’s effectiveness is being widely questioned. Does the Prime Minister agree that the money could be better spent to bolster security and public safety elsewhere?

I am delighted that the Prime Minister has finally adopted our policy of a border police force, about which I have been asking him since he became Prime Minister. The immigration Minister has described that policy as damaging, disruptive and distracting, and the Prime Minister and others said that all the way through the election campaign. I am pleased that the Prime Minister now agrees with us and that questions from this Dispatch Box result in action from the Government.

The commission that I set up under Lord Stevens includes the former chief inspector of constabulary and the current head of the British Transport police. Their work is well under way. In order to prepare the policy quickly, will the Prime Minister consider turning the commission into a Government commission, with Opposition involvement, so that we may implement the policy properly and ensure that it is a proper border police force?

On tackling extremism, the Prime Minister has said little about controls on terror suspects travelling abroad. Can he tell us today whether he is considering new laws? Does he agree with me that we should be using intelligence, surveillance and co-ordination to ensure that everything possible is done to break terror networks between this country, Pakistan and the middle east?

On Hizb ut-Tahrir, I ask him again why there is still no ban. It is banned not only in Sweden and Germany, but in Egypt and Pakistan. The fact is that two years ago the then Prime Minister did not say that he would look into banning that group, that he would review it or that he would consider it: he said that he would do it. Why cannot the Prime Minister make the same pledge today?

Another promise made two years ago was to deport those using websites to incite hatred and extremism. Will the Prime Minister confirm that since then only one person has been deported under those specific provisions?

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