Before addressing the specific question of whether Donald Trump should be banned from entering the UK, I will spend a few moments on the wider context. Donald Trump made his comments about Muslims largely in the aftermath of the San Bernardino shootings on 2 December—that is when he was at his height with these comments. He is not the first, and he will not be the last, to make comments about a community in the

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wake of a terrorist atrocity, and we should make it clear that responsibility for terrorist acts lies with terrorists, not with the communities that they purport to come from. We must be clear in what we say about that, even when Donald Trump is not clear about what he says.

I am concerned about the rise in hate crime in the UK. Hate crime has been increasing, as has been mentioned in the debate. It went up 18% in 2015, and the number of offences involving religious hatred has more than doubled over the past three years. That rise is a concern, but it is not uniform—it always spikes after an atrocity. There is always a reaction in terms of hate crime.

Just last month, in my constituency of Holborn and St Pancras, I convened a meeting with Bengali and Somali women, from whom I was particularly concerned to hear. We spent the afternoon discussing their concerns—this was in December, after the Paris atrocities—and the one thing they raised with me repeatedly was that they, the Muslim women in my constituency, were very concerned that they were being insulted that day and that week as a result of what had happened in Paris. They perceived it and felt it, and they said that it was happening in Euston on the buses, on the trains and when they were shopping, for example. That is happening in our communities, and it spikes after atrocities. We have to unite around our values and our concern that that should be addressed.

The Government are now tracking Muslim hate crime as an independent category, which is welcome, and a number of steps are being taken to address hate crime. Anything the Minister can say on what is being done in addition to address such hate crime would be welcome. I join other Members in saying that I, too, and many others here, want to send a message to the Muslim community about how much we value them and what they bring to our society.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh: I am extremely grateful for the hon. and learned Gentleman’s sentiments about the Muslim community. It is important to put on the record that the Muslim community condemns all types of bigotry and racism, regardless who is spouting that. There seems to be a misconception, not least throughout this debate—I am referring to comments that I have received during the debate—that, for some reason, we think it is acceptable for Muslims to speak in derogatory terms about people of other religions. It is important that we put on record that that is absolutely not the case. Wherever the bigotry, racism or hate speech is coming from, it is not acceptable, regardless who might be delivering the message.

Keir Starmer: I am grateful for that intervention because I have a few comments on the approach that says, “Well, because he wants to ban Muslims, we should ban him.” That is far too simplistic. What lies at the heart of his belief that Muslims should be banned is that he thinks they are all dangerous. That is not buffoonery. That is absolutely repugnant. That is not what leads anybody in this debate, or anybody who signed the petition, to suggest that Donald Trump should not come here; it is a very different situation. His comments are so offensive to that whole community, and of course to women and to Mexicans, too—because of the assumptions and the belief that lie behind those comments.

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Kwasi Kwarteng: In no way do I condone what Donald Trump said, but it is not right in fair dealing to say, “If you ban all of x, that means you think that all of x are dangerous,” whatever group it might be. Forgive me, but what Donald Trump is saying is that a very few from a certain group might be dangerous—that is where the proposed ban comes from. I do not condone the logic or the policy, but in this House of Commons we have to give fair dealing to the views that have been expressed.

Keir Starmer: We have to be very careful about equating the views of Members of this House who call for a ban with the views of Donald Trump. For me, his views edge towards treating a whole community as a suspect community. Of course, it may be that he does not think that of each and every member of the Muslim community, but this has happened before in many other contexts where a whole community has been treated as a suspect community. We stood against it in the past, and we should stand against it now.

Chris Stephens: The hon. and learned Gentleman comes to this debate with considerable and learned legal experience. This debate can be tied up on whether Mr Trump’s comments were, as has been described, outrageous or simply hate speech, as some of us believe. As the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) said, others have been banned from this country for saying exactly the same things.

Keir Starmer: I will address that specific issue in a moment. Obviously, one of the measures available to the Government is to ban any individual from entering the UK. That power has been used by successive Home Secretaries on a number of occasions, and many examples have been put before the House this afternoon. It is a power that should be applied equally to everybody, whatever their wealth or power. That is important. I do not hold the view that presidential candidates fall within a special category; they should be judged in the same way as everybody else, on the basis of what they have said or done.

Dr Wollaston: Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the consequences of such hate speech are greater when it comes from high-profile individuals? At the heart of this debate is whether Donald Trump’s presence in the UK is conducive to the public good. We have heard repeatedly about the harm, and the hon. and learned Gentleman himself has elucidated the kinds of hate crimes about which we are talking.

Keir Starmer: I accept the substance of the hon. Lady’s intervention that certain words in the mouths of certain individuals are more likely to provoke a reaction. The question is what the test for a ban is and whether the words have to be linked to public disorder and violence rather than simply being offensive. I will come to that, but I accept the premise that different people will provoke different reactions, sometimes according to who they are. The narrower point is that simply because he has particular wealth, power or position should not affect the application of the same rules to him as would be applied to anybody else.

The threshold for banning is relatively high, and the power is relatively rarely used. The test is whether an individual’s exclusion from the UK would be conducive

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to the public good. In 2005, as has been mentioned, that was extended to include unacceptable behaviours. It is worth going through the list of indicative factors spelling out such behaviours. Four examples are given: fomenting, justifying or glorifying terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs; seeking to provoke others to terrorist acts; fomenting other serious criminal activity; and fostering hatred that might lead to inter-community violence in the UK. The touchstone has always been words provoking a response that includes elements of disorder or violence, so the threshold is quite high. Examples of some cases that have fallen under those provisions were given at the outset of this debate.

There is no doubt that some of Donald Trump’s comments have been offensive, shocking and disturbing, and I join those who say that they are not funny but repugnant, but they are just that—offensive, shocking and disturbing—and I do not think that that, in and of itself, is enough to provoke a ban at this stage, on the basis of what has been said so far. I return to a principle set out by the European Court of Human Rights almost a quarter of a century ago, in relation to a case in which The Sunday Times and our Government were slugging it out over “Spycatcher”. The ECHR said:

“Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society…it is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb”.

The point that the Court was making is important. Freedom of speech is not needed for welcome speech. The protection is not needed for speech that people treat with indifference; it is only relevant, and it only bites, in the sphere of offensive, shocking or disturbing speech. That is the whole point of the protection of free speech. Therefore, the speech that we are debating, however offensive, shocking or disturbing, is in fact protected speech under what we conceive to be freedom of expression.

How does that translate? Of course I would not want to have Donald Trump round for dinner to express his views, but I agree with others that we should invite him to join us in our various constituencies to meet our constituents and members of various religious orders, faiths and communities. Having listened to this debate, I realise that if he came here, he would be very busy, as he is already going to visit several constituencies. I would invite him to mine—at the end of a long list—to meet my constituents, because mine is an incredibly diverse and multicultural community. Donald Trump would see a UK very different from the picture that he painted. But should he be banned from entering the country on the basis of what he said? No; in my view, he should not. He should be met with words far more powerful than his.

I accept that this is a judgment call, and I respect those who have expressed, in this debate and on other occasions, the contrary view that the matter is so close to the line that action should be taken against Donald Trump. In the end, we should be guided by our own values, not his. Our own values include a deep belief in freedom of speech and in multi-faith and diverse societies in which everyone feels secure and respected.

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7.14 pm

The Minister for Immigration (James Brokenshire): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David. I congratulate the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) on the manner in which he opened this debate, underlining the reasons why we are debating the issue and the importance that we in this Parliament attach to petitions. When those supported by the public reach a threshold, it provides a voice for the public in this House. That has been an important addition to our processes. He was also right to underline the shared sense of history between the United Kingdom and the United States, and the relationship that we have enjoyed over a considerable period of time. This debate has underlined the value and importance that this House places on freedom of speech, as well as our ability to allow all different views and perspectives to argue those points. That has been done clearly and effectively in this impassioned debate.

Before I respond to a number of the points raised in this debate, there are a few things that I want to say at the outset. Britain is a successful multiracial, multi-faith, multi-ethnic country. Our strength derives from that diversity. Life in our country is based on fundamental values that have been shaped by our history and that are supported and shared by the overwhelming majority of the population: the rule of law, democracy and individual liberty; freedom of expression; mutual respect, tolerance and understanding among different faiths and beliefs. These make the foundation of our successful, pluralistic nation. They unite us and help our society to thrive.

I am proud that our country has so many vibrant, diverse communities comprising people of many faiths. I celebrate the contribution made by British Muslims in this country in every sphere and every walk of life, from those who fought in the trenches in world war one and fought fascism in world war two to businessmen, doctors, nurses, teachers, members of our armed services and Members of this House, some of whom have made powerful and impassioned speeches in this debate. They are proud to be both British and Muslim without any contradiction.

Yes, the threat from terrorism both at home and abroad is serious and real; we have seen the damaging and corrosive effect of extremism in our communities. But suggesting that the solution is to ban Muslims who have done nothing wrong ignores the fact that extremism affects all communities and hatred can come from any part of society. It ignores the fact that Muslims are themselves far too often the targets of extremism and hatred, and that around the world many Muslims—more than any other group—are killed by terrorism. It also gives succour to the false view that Muslims cannot live a purposeful and fulfilled life in the west. Such assertions are fundamentally wrong, and as a country we could not be clearer in saying so.

If we are to defeat the threats that we face, we need to work together. We need everyone to play a part in stopping the poisonous spread of extremism and helping to protect vulnerable people from being drawn towards its twisted ideology. That is the approach that this Government seek to foster, because we have seen the devastating impact that radicalisation can have on individuals, families and communities and because around the world, more than 1.5 billion people of different nationalities, outlooks and political persuasions live peacefully, practising the Muslim faith.

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We must protect those who might be vulnerable to the poisonous and pernicious influence of radicalisation, working with faith groups, community organisations and mosques across the country. It is a job for all of us, and we continue to work in partnership with communities of all faith backgrounds to challenge those who spread hatred and intolerance. We must work with the overwhelming majority of people of this country who abhor the twisted narrative that has seduced some of our people, and challenge those who use a warped version of faith to undermine our fundamental values.

Many of the contributions from right hon. and hon. Members this evening have focused on Donald Trump’s call for a temporary shutdown on Muslims entering the United States. The Prime Minister has said that Donald Trump’s comments are

“divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”

I reiterate the Prime Minister’s view and profoundly disagree with Donald Trump.

Regarding Mr Trump’s comments about the UK and London in particular, again he could not be further from the truth. We should all be proud of London’s status as one of the world’s most diverse and tolerant cities, and of the police’s role in keeping the entire city safe, working in all communities to protect people from radicalisation, and I pay tribute to their tireless work.

Sir Edward Leigh: My right hon. Friend mentioned the Prime Minister. Before he sits down at the end of his remarks, will he commend the Prime Minister’s article in The Times today, in which the Prime Minister says the key to good race relations is full integration? The Prime Minister also points out that there is still a worryingly large number of Muslim women who do not speak English and are not in the jobs market, and he wants to improve the situation. Will my right hon. Friend the Minister commend the Prime Minister?

James Brokenshire: I agree with the policy that the Prime Minister has rightly identified today, in seeking to ensure that language is there to make sure that we help migrants to better participate and integrate in everyday life. That is the building block behind the policy that the Prime Minister has rightly identified.

Equally, the Prime Minister has been prepared to look at some uncomfortable facts; for example, the fact that in 2011 22% of British Muslim women spoke poor or no English compared with just 9% of British Muslim men. Therefore, it is how we can target that support at those communities in the greatest need that is important, and that is precisely why Louise Casey has been engaged, as part of her work, to go about identifying that.

Anne McLaughlin: Does the Minister understand the point I made earlier, that making this help available for migrant people who do not speak English is different from saying, “You must do it if you are a Muslim woman”? This support should not be aimed at a religion but at people who require it.

James Brokenshire: This is not a Muslim-only scheme, and the point that I rightly make is that it is targeted at those communities that are most impacted and most affected. Equally, that is why I make the point about the 22% figure that the Prime Minister has rightly highlighted today.

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I will address the issue of exclusion. The Home Secretary has the power to exclude a national from outside the European Economic Area and refuse them entry to the UK if they have personally directed that that person’s exclusion from the UK is conducive to the public good. This power is derived from the royal prerogative and is exercised by the Home Secretary in person. Exclusion decisions are not taken lightly or in isolation. The Home Secretary makes every decision on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the information available and a wide range of policy and operational factors. These factors include views from across Government, including from the Department for Communities and Local Government, and from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They also include consideration of any interference with the person’s human rights under the European convention on human rights, such as their article 10 right to respect for freedom of speech. The hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) has also underlined some of those factors and elements that are part of the policy that we adopt in considering matters of exclusion.

The Home Secretary uses her power to exclude foreign nationals to protect us from national security threats, to protect us from radicalisers and hate preachers, and to protect us from people who seek to undermine our core British values. The policy is not targeted at any particular community; it is targeted at all those who advocate hatred or violence, regardless of their origins or beliefs. The Home Secretary has prevented neo-Nazis, Islamist extremists and anti-Muslim hate preachers from entering the UK. She has excluded more preachers of hate than any other Home Secretary before her—103 since 2010—and she will continue to use the exclusion power against those who seek to do us harm.

The Government have a long-standing policy of not routinely commenting on those who are being considered for exclusion for sound legal reasons, and I will maintain that position this evening. However, what I can say is that the US remains our most important bilateral partner. It is in the UK’s interest that we engage all presidential candidates— Democratic and Republican—even though we may disagree profoundly on important issues. Where there are clear differences of opinion, the most effective way to influence our American partners is through a frank and open exchange of views in taking on those arguments. Today’s robust debate has provided a platform to do just that.

Anne McLaughlin: I thank the Minister for giving way again; I have almost forgotten what I was going to say. He said that the Home Secretary has a policy position of not commenting on people who are being considered for the exclusion list. Does that mean that he can neither confirm nor deny that Donald Trump is being considered for that list?

James Brokenshire: As I say, we do not comment on individual matters, but I would cite what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has rightly underlined in saying:

“The best way to defeat such nonsense is to engage in robust, democratic debate and make it very clear that his views”—

that is, Donald Trump’s views—

“are not welcome.”—[Official Report, 9 December 2015; Vol. 603, c. 990.]

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We have also had remarks about Donald Trump’s comments in respect of investment in Scotland. The appointment of Global Scots is, of course, a matter for the Scottish Government. The UK Government have never given Mr Trump awards or appointments, honorary or otherwise. Mr Trump has threatened to withhold investment in Scotland in response to the calls to ban him from the UK. Over the years, Mr Trump has made a number of different statements about the scale of his investments in the UK and his willingness to maintain them. The UK is the No. 1 destination in Europe for inward investment and the World Bank has ranked the UK as the sixth easiest place in the world to do business. So, any organisation that makes promises about investment in the UK should live up to those promises.

In conclusion, we will not win the fight against extremism by demonising communities and tarring an entire religion because of the actions of a few, and we will not defeat the threats we face by acting in isolation. We will win the fight by working together, standing shoulder to shoulder with people of different faiths and different backgrounds, defending our values, and by showing that division, hatred and hostility have no place in our societies.

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7.27 pm

Paul Flynn: The triumph of today is that we have had a debate that has been seen by many people outside, including in the United States, and they have seen Parliament at its very best. We have had a diverse debate from a diverse Parliament, and I believe that it reinforces the need for the Petitions Committee, which is a very young and experimental Committee that is going very slowly, to build a role here. This subject was not chosen by any politicians but by people who initiated and signed a petition.

I think that we are all touched by the accounts of those of the Muslim faith about how devastating the threat from Donald Trump is, but I believe that all that has been said today will enhance the standing of this Parliament and reinforce our relationship with our great ally, the United States.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered e-petitions 114003 and 114907 relating to the exclusion of Donald Trump from the UK.

7.28 pm

Sitting adjourned.