Counter-extremism Contents


Background to our inquiry

1.The Government announced that it would be introducing a new Bill on extremism in the Queen’s Speech of May 2015. It subsequently launched a Counter-Extremism Strategy1 on 19 October 2015. This sits alongside its longstanding Prevent Strategy (which is part of the CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy and is designed to prevent extremism).2

2.In the light of these developments (and anticipating undertaking a legislative scrutiny inquiry into the Bill when it was published) we wrote to the Home Secretary on 25 October 2015, posing a series of questions about the proposed new legislation.3 We also published our legislative scrutiny priorities on 9 November 2015. We indicated that the proposed Bill would be a priority as it was likely to raise significant human rights issues.

3.We received a holding response to our letter from the Home Secretary on 9 December 2015, with the promise of a more detailed reply once the legislation had been published. When no Bill appeared (and given the contentious nature of the measures proposed in the Queen’s Speech) we decided to launch what is, in effect, a pre-legislative scrutiny inquiry into the Government’s policy proposals on 4 February 2016. We called for evidence on a number of focused issues. These were:

4.We held four evidence sessions between March and June 2016, taking evidence from the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, and the former Independent Reviewer, Lord Carlile QC, on 9 March; from Sir Peter Fahy QPM (former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police), Mr Barath Ganesh (Research Officer, Faith Matters), Sara Khan (Co-Director, Inspire) and Professor Julian Rivers (Professor of Jurisprudence, Bristol University) on 16 March; from Professor Louise Richardson (Vice Chancellor, University of Oxford), Dr Jessie Blackbourn (University of Kingston), Karon McCarthy (PREVENT officer and Assistant Principal at Chobham Academy), and Christine Abbott (University Secretary and Director of Operations, Birmingham City University) on 4 May; and from Karen Bradley MP (then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office) on 29 June.

5.We also received six written submissions in response to our call for evidence. A list of those who contributed is included at the back of this Report and all written submissions we received can be found on our website.4 We are grateful to all of those individuals and organisations who have engaged with this inquiry and provided us with useful evidence.

6.Despite featuring in the Queen’s Speech in 2015, and again—subsequently re-named the Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill—in the Queen’s Speech of May 2016, no Bill has yet been published. In the circumstances, we decided to publish a report to summarise our conclusions in respect of each of the issues we took evidence on. We expect the Government to have regard to this evidence and to our Report before seeking to bring forward any new proposals in this area.

7.The remainder of this Report is in three parts. Chapter Two sets out the legal framework (including the relevant human rights standards). Chapter Three addresses the current Prevent Strategy, including the operation of the Prevent Duty in the education sphere; as well as the Counter Extremism Strategy and a Government consultation on countering extremism in out-of-school settings. Chapter Four sets out our views on the Government’s proposals for new civil orders to counter-extremism which are expected to be included in the Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill.

1 HM Government, Counter-Extremism Strategy, Cm 9148, October 2015

2 The CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy is made up of 4 separate strands: Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare.

3 Letter from Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, to Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department, regarding the proposed new legislation, 25 November 2015

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

21 July 2016