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There is much to welcome in this document, but what further ongoing training, and indeed communication with those involved in counter-intelligence, will these 60,000 people have? What powers will they have, and what does she expect of them? Does she recognise that many innocent people going about their lawful business, from train-spotters to tourists and, in the latest incident,
night fishermen, have been arrested by over-zealous police officers? What will she do to prevent that from happening again?
Our concern about the strategy is that it continues to sacrifice hard-won liberties in the name of security, and to trespass at the edge of what is acceptable to many British people. Ministers have repeatedly returned with proposals for longer periods of detention without charge, as if the whole fight against terrorism could be reduced to a number: 90 days, 42 days and, still, 28 daysmore than double the next longest period in an English-speaking country.
Would it not be better if the Home Secretary made more hasty progress with the introduction of intercept evidence in courts? What progress is she making with that? Given the substantial success of criminal convictions for terrorist offencesat 92 per cent., the figure is far higher than those for other serious crimes, which is cause for real congratulation of the Home Secretarywill she now review the need for some of the more extreme measures that she introduced in relation to the very long period of detention without charge? Will she come back to the House with a reform of the regime for control orders?
Jacqui Smith: I thank the hon. Gentleman for paying tribute to those involved in countering terrorism and keeping us safe. I agree that our response should be measured and proportionate, but I disagree with his assessment that it is not. I have made it completely clear in the strategy that our approach to countering terrorism must be grounded in basic human rights: that is at the heart of our approach.
The hon. Gentleman described the training that we provide through Project Argus, and other training, as being about giving powers to those involved, but it is not about giving them specific powers. It is about, for example, enabling security guards to be vigilant and aware of what is happening outside, perhaps outside the night club that they are guarding, and training people in shopping centres to be aware of what would happen in the event of a terrorist attack. Those people must learn how to lead others to safety, and where the safe places are. Pretty practical and, I think, sensible guidance and advice will be given to people who can play a rolealthough it will not be their primary rolein keeping others safe.
The hon. Gentleman returned once againwhich I did not, in my statementto detention periods, and to the fallacy that detention periods in this country are somehow out of step with those in other countries. We have presented our arguments time after time. I remind the hon. Gentleman of the arguments that we have presented about European countriesnever mind other countrieswhere people are detained for longer periods, effectively pre-charge, than is the case in this country, and I remind him that in this country any detention for longer than 24 hours is subject to judicial oversight and review.
The hon. Gentleman asks about our progress with intercept evidence. As we have made clear, we are working through the proposition made in the Chilcot review that it is possible to design a legal system in which we could use intercept evidence, while fulfilling the Privy Council reviews nine tests. As we spelt out in a recent written ministerial statement, we are now, having reviewed and designed a system, trying to test it with real cases.
Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield) (Lab): I welcome my right hon. Friends statement. It is important that these reviews are ongoing, as terrorist movements across the world and in this country do not stand still in trying to ensure that on one occasionit only takes one occasionthey get through, kill people and cause the destruction of life and property. For those who are maimed, life will never be the same again.
I welcome the statement but I would like my right hon. Friend to go back to her colleagues in Government on one part of it. In the past 10 years, 200 of our fellow citizens have been killed abroad in terrorist attacks, and 150 have been maimed for life, yet we still do not have a comprehensive compensation scheme for British citizens abroad. These are not combatants or volunteers; they are simply men, women and children who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and because it was not in the United Kingdom they are treated differently. That is indefensible. We are dealing with worldwide terrorism. Every British citizen is entitled to be treated the same and to be protected. Where something goes wrong, they and their families are entitled to be looked after by this country. I ask her to take that back to her colleagues and to give a clear indication, possibly as early as the Budget, about what we should do about it.
Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend is right to be impassioned about the safety of people both in this country and overseas. A specific part of the strategy is to protect our interests here and overseas, but I understand that he is making a specific point about compensation. We already provide considerable assistance, but I will reflect on his points about a compensation system for those harmed in terrorist attacks overseas, and discuss them with colleagues.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): Is there any particular reason why the Pursue strand in the document is being moved up ahead of the Prevent strand, which is normally the first named? Has the right hon. Lady made any progress in her dealings with university staff in reminding them that, while the preservation of academic freedom is absolutely vital, they also have duties as citizens of this country to report to the appropriate authorities any incipient criminal activities that they detect on campus?
Jacqui Smith: I think that the order has always been Pursue and then Prevent. Of course the short-term task is to pursue those who are plotting terrorist attacks and to bring them to justice, and the long-term aim is to prevent people from turning to terrorism or violent extremism in the first place. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not read too much into the placing of those elements in the list. It is a wide-ranging and comprehensive strategy that requires all four Ps to be successful.
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about higher education institutions. We have made considerable progress, not least through the work of my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, in providing more guidance on what happens in higher education institutions. It is now recognised that while academic freedom and the right of discussion is absolutely fundamentally part of university life, so is the protection of young people from potential radicalisation, which may lead them to tragic consequences, and the right of everyone to have freedom to live on
university campuses without being subject to some of the radicalising influences and violent extremism that there is a risk of being perpetrated in some of our higher education institutions.
Mr. David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside) (Lab): I thank my right hon. Friend and all those who have worked with her on updating the Contest strategy, which we first put together in 2003. While it is understandable that she will be concentrating on the immediate physical risk to life and limb, demonstrated so tragically on 7 July 2005, and the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat that exists, will she consider adding a further letter to CBRNE for electronic or cyber attack?
There is a brief mention of it in the updated document, but as we saw from Estonia and can see what is happening across the world, there is a real danger that terrorists could launch such an attack in a devastating fashion that would not only undermine our already fragile economy, but put people at substantial risk.
Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend makes those comments from a position of considerable experience in terms of his contribution to the whole issue of how we counter the terrorist threat. He is right that cyber-security generally cuts across almost all the challenges highlighted last year in the national security strategy, including not only terrorism but matters such as organised crime and business crime. That is why a piece of work currently being undertaken by the Cabinet Office is extremely important; it is leading a cross-departmental project on cyber-security, and I hope my right hon. Friend is reassured to know that that work is going on in Government. He will also know, not least because he and I were in Washington at the same time, just over a week ago, that the way in which we can work with our international partners is also very important. During that trip, I was able to meet Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security, who is currently reviewing the role that that Department should play in cyber-security in the US, and we agreed to share experience, to work together, to tackle many of the problems posed in the area of cyber-security and to ensure we can be safe in the virtual world in the same way as we are in the real world.
Patrick Mercer (Newark) (Con): The Home Secretary will be aware that one of the so-called preachers of hate is currently in a high-security prison awaiting deportation as a danger to the state. When he was on Special Immigration Appeals Commission bail, he was forbidden to use the internet, yet as we speak, he is broadcasting on the internet his litany of hate, trying to suborn young minds across the country and the world. That is happening from inside a high-security prison. How can that happen?
Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice was present in the Chamber until recently. I am sure he will be concerned to hear what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I will take that up with my right hon. Friend.
John Reid (Airdrie and Shotts) (Lab):
As you may know, Mr. Speaker, I have an interest in these matters, as declared in the register. First, may I congratulate the Home Secretary on what I consider the most important
element of this strategy: its unparalleled openness? Does she agree that if we are truly to be able to face, respond to andGod forbid that we ever have the needrecover from a terrorist attack, the resilience that is needed will ultimately lie not in the agencies of the state, but in the resolve, spirit and understanding, and support for our aims, of the ordinary people of this country? Therefore, may I commend her training programmes, and ask whether she agrees that the litmus test of this strategy is how far it will embed that resilience not just in the political leadership here or the formal security agencies of the British state, but in the ordinary people of Britain, because it is ultimately through them and in the communities that we will defeat the terrorists?
Jacqui Smith: I thank my right hon. Friend for those words, and also for his extremely important work in the Home Office, not least in setting up and reorganising the structure of government to ensure that, in the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, we have a strong strategic lead for taking this work forward across government, and his work in highlighting the evolving nature of the threat and the requirement for us to evolve how we dealt with it. I agree with him that while we depend on those in the police, the security and intelligence agencies and the armed forces to tackle terrorism, it is not enough to expect that they will enable us to mitigate that threat. Each of us has a role, and it is in recognition of that that we haveunprecedentedly, I thinkmade all these 170-plus pages unclassified and available to the public. It is why we have also ensured that we have a more digestible version that the public can read too. He rightly says that it is when everybody understands not that there is a lot to fear, but that there is a lot to be gained by being vigilant and by having a role to play in helping to counter terror, that we will truly be safer and more confident in this country about our security.
David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): May I say to the Home Secretary that a tragic reminder of the less than competent implementation of the strategy is the fact that she was unable to answer the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer)?
To come back to the strategic issue, one of the most fundamental aspects of Contest is the Prevent strandpreventing a large number of young Muslims from becoming radicalised. Her own heads of MI5 successively have told us that there has been a massive 25 per cent. year-on-year increase in the number of those young Muslims. That demonstrates a failure of the Prevent strand, and it is made worse by the fact that her Government attempt, time and again, to implement excessively authoritarian measures such as 42 days, 90 days and so on. What is she going to do to make this strand work?
Jacqui Smith: I have to say that I do not recognise the right hon. Gentlemans comment that there has been a 25 per cent. year-on-year increase. In fact, it is this Government who, over the past few years, have put a particular focus on the action, resources and partnerships that we have built up in order to prevent violent extremism not just in the communities, but more widely. He does not choose to listen, so I shall end my reply there.
Dr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East) (Lab):
Many of us remember the Omagh bombing and some of us in this place remember Airey Neave. Surely the whole House must agree with my right hon. Friend that there
are major differences between the past challenge of the Provisional IRA and the situation we face now. Not only is it internationalthat makes a crucial differencebut we know the scale of the threat following the attacks on the twin towers and the London underground transport system. Does she agree that one of the important things to recognise in her whole approach is the distinction between the short term, when we have to both disrupt these groups, many of which follow the leadership of al-Qaeda, and convict the people who are found guilty, and the medium to long term, when we have to win the hearts and minds for a society where we have freedom and justice for all?
Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend is exactly right; that is the reason why all four Ps that I have outlined today are fundamentally important and why, in the short term, we do need to take action to disrupt terrorist plots and to bring terrorists to justice. It is also why we have focused considerable effort and funding on the second PPreventand why the way in which we prevent people from becoming violent extremists and from supporting terrorism, both in this country and abroad, will be the defining factor in whether we can help to reduce the risk in the longer term.
Building community cohesion is about creating strong and positive relationships between people of different backgrounds, including those...from different faith communities.
Given that statement, does she recognise the potential for inconsistency in allowing schools, through religious discrimination, to segregate communities further, meaning that white-only schools can stay white-only by refusing admission to Muslims and Asian schools can remain Asian-only by excluding applications from non-Muslims? Will she pause to reconsider the policy of allowing that sort of segregation to get worse?
Jacqui Smith: I have had experience in my previous jobs of the admissions criteria for schools, and I absolutely do not recognise the ability of schools to operate the sorts of admission criteria that the hon. Gentleman has just outlined.
Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): I welcome the Home Secretarys statement, but can she assure me that it will prevent a repetition of the situation where Daud Abdullah, the deputy president of the Muslim Council of Britain, was able to advise Ministers on social cohesion while he was, as he remains, a promoter of violent jihad?
Jacqui Smith: Certainly, we condemn not only the comments, but the statements supported by Daud Abdullah. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is in ongoing dialogue with the MCB about his role and the response to those particular circumstances.
Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex) (Con):
I welcome the Home Secretarys statement, but while her responsibilities are inevitably focused primarily on her own Department, may I commend the cross-governmental approach that the document adopts? Does she share my
concern that the pages on Pakistan and Afghanistan suggest that it is hardly possible to say that the Prevent strategy is working in those countries? In fact, what we have done in Afghanistan seems to have fed the forces of radicalisation rather than defeated them. What discussions is she having with her counterparts in the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence on revisiting the Afghan strategy to ensure that we start to provide a more stabilising influence in that part of the world and to devote a fairer proportion of our resources to Pakistan rather than just to military effort in Afghanistan?
Jacqui Smith: Of course, military effort is part of the approach that we need to take to making the world safer and ensuring that those states that have in the past undoubtedly been the basis of a terrorist threat are tackled, but so are diplomatic effort and international aid effort. In all those areas, we are working closely with the Government of Pakistan and other international partnersfor example, the USon setting clear objectives, especially with respect to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and on how we can carry those out with the widest range of international partners.
Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): I have not been approached by my constituents saying that too many powers have been given to the police and security services. My constituents are interested in the fact that Islamic fundamentalists are appearing to get away with saying some extreme things about terrorism and the murder of British service personnel. That is what my real concern is, and will my right hon. Friend take some strong action on that? Clearly, the hearts and minds campaign is very important, but work on it should be based on some fundamental truths, including that the biggest killer of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Jacqui Smith: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why the vast majority of Muslims in this country condemn completely the actions of terrorists and want to join others in the community to promote the shared values that we spell out in this document and to work against those who want to promote violent extremism.
Mr. Paul Goodman (Wycombe) (Con): It has been confirmed in the past week that the Department for Communities and Local Government is only now compiling a central list of exactly where the £12 million of preventing violent extremism money has gone this year. That makes it very hard to see what due diligence has been exercised. Can the Home Secretary give the House an unequivocal guarantee that none of that money has gone astray, and that none of the £386 million spent overseas on preventing extremism projects has gone astray either?
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