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It becomes harder and harder for UK citizens to enter their own country. Some airports make a habit of making UK citizens queue to get in, while lanes for foreign nationals are scarcely used. British people find it increasingly hard to understand how all this is imposed on them, when illegal immigrants waft in

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and out of Britain in numbers that even the Home Office cannot count and can even end up guarding the Prime Minister’s car. They would not even put that in an episode of “Yes, Prime Minister”. Why are 4,000 prisoners still awaiting deportation? What is the cost to the UK taxpayer of keeping them?

The Statement talks of road shows in Pakistan to combat extremism. We all know—and there is increasing public concern about this—that Pakistan has been a fount of extremist groups and extremist teaching, but what authority is going to enable this action? What Government are going to combat extremism there? Is this not a matter of the profoundest concern?

Finally, of course we welcome projects to promote greater understanding of the contribution of Islam to European history and culture, but can we have projects on the contribution of Judaism and Christianity, too? We are all in this together, and the time for relativism and intellectual ghettoes is gone. We have common traditions, common values and common ideals, which British people of all faiths and none can cherish and share. We support everything in this Statement that tends to that. We must win the battle for hearts and minds among those who might be tempted by extremists, but we must not win it while losing the hearts and minds of those ordinary people who want to lead their own lives, without unnecessary intrusion, surveillance and fear.

4.01 pm

Lord McNally: My Lords, I associate myself with the thanks given by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, to the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, for repeating this Statement.

There is a lot of sound common sense in the Statement, particularly in relation to initiatives in education, the media and the community, and cross-faith initiatives. The length of the Statement deserves a full debate, and perhaps we can look at an opportunity to have one. I repeat the point that I made at the opening of the Queen’s Speech debate: we on these Benches are fully committed to measures to combat terrorism and ensure the safety of the public. We support the police and security services in their difficult and sometimes dangerous task of countering terrorism. We urge all communities to see the fight against terrorism as their fight.

It is not a question, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, has said, of one party being tough on terrorism and other parties being soft, nor is it a matter of being able to pass a law or adopt a policy that will make us 100 per cent secure and safe. There will be attacks in future and we have to think hard about how best to foil or respond to such attacks. It is on that basis that we welcome the Government’s search for a cross-party consensus.

There are areas of agreement: for example, we agree with the Government on post-charge questioning and support the concept of a unified border force. The training of staff and the use of architects and other professionals to make public areas and public buildings safer is eminently sensible and we shall examine the

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report of the noble Lord, Lord West, with due respect for his experience and expertise. We also welcome the constructive measures proposed to engage and involve our Muslim fellow citizens, who could be the greatest victims of all if terrorists are allowed to succeed.

The actions at all levels of education are to be welcomed, as are actions to ensure that those preaching in mosques are not preaching violence and hatred and the initiatives proposed among Muslim women and young Muslims. The proposals to work more closely with our European partners are also to be welcomed, as sharing experience and information can only be of value, as is the work to use financial intelligence to cut off funding to terrorist networks. However, consensus can go only so far; Parliament has a job to do.

During the Second World War, Winston Churchill described Aneurin Bevan as a “squalid nuisance”, because he kept up the responsibilities of opposition, even at a time of coalition and war. When government and agencies seek more powers over the citizen, Parliament has a duty to examine such proposals and ensure that the highest hurdles are cleared, otherwise we slip into a permanent state of emergency. The Government have a duty to inform people of the realities that they face but not to encourage panic or hysteria. In that respect, we welcome the absence of knee-jerk reactions to June’s events.

So we will question the justification for extending the period of detention without charge beyond 28 days. However, I will not go into a close debate on that today, otherwise the Lord President will simply quote to me the noble Lord, Lord Carlile—who is fast achieving sainthood on the government Benches. We will probe whether the rapid expansion of the security services outlined in the Statement is matched by improvements in co-ordination between the services, particularly between MI5 and MI6 and between those services and the new border forces and dedicated regional counterterrorism units. We will probe what political control and accountability those services will have.

We will continue to question whether the billions spent on an untried and untested ID card system would not be better spent on more mundane but more effective projects. For example, I read in the newspapers that the police are short of staff who can quickly and expertly decipher computer information. As the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said on Monday, the police should be recruiting the young, with their computer skills, from our colleges and universities and get them on board to do this job. One could say the same about a number of the hearts-and-minds initiatives outlined in the Statement. There is a real danger that in many of these areas we will be doing too little, too late, while the ID card scheme gobbles up resources.

One of the lasting images of the Second World War was of Londoners trudging to work through glass and rubble. Such fortitude came from shared values and a common purpose. There is much in the Statement that will promote shared values and the shared interests referred to and promote that

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common purpose in the face of present dangers. However, Parliament has a duty to test demand for new powers against protection of hard-won and long-standing civil liberties. We are a robust society and one which is instinctively tolerant. So it might do us no harm to keep in mind another of Churchill's war time statements: we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

4.07 pm

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords for their general welcome for the Statement. I make no apologies for its length or detail because my right honourable friend felt it very important that there was an opportunity in another place and in your Lordships' House to hear all the detail on an issue of such great importance. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that my right honourable friend can be very short in his responses when it is required.

I want to deal first with the issue which the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, raised about my noble friend Lord West, who is in his place beside me. The noble Lord described him as an old sea dog. My noble friend described himself earlier today as a simple sailor. I do not think that he is either. I think that the right honourable gentleman Alan Beith got it more correct in his remarks about my noble friend’s stature. However, as my noble friend said to me only a couple of hours ago, those who speak on the radio sometimes do not say quite what they intended to.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, that is exactly right. He also said that I should repeat what he said at 9.43 this morning, which is actually his view. When asked, “Are you convinced of the need for more than 28 days’ detention”, my noble friend said:

That is my noble friend's position, and my noble friend will, I know, be nodding in agreement with that.

What the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said about the concerns being deep and fundamental is absolutely right. However, when looking at such deep and fundamental questions, one of the issues we have to address is the need to reach consensus in building on the expertise and experience in your Lordships' House and in another place. It is not about fitting-up the Tories and the Liberal Democrats—an interesting parliamentary phrase—nor about taking away what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, described as the Opposition’s role to oppose. It is about using the robustness of those positions to ensure that, when we reach decisions where we can, we can reach a consensus on protecting the people of this country.

I was not going to quote the noble Lord, Lord Carlile—though I think that he should achieve sainthood on the Liberal Democrat Benches for the work that he does. Part of the reason why I would quote him is because he is a man of great independent

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thought. I know that he is highly valued by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, by the Liberal Democrats and by your Lordships' House. I pay tribute to the work that he has done. He does not say what he does not mean, and he does not say what he believes the Government wish to hear. Therefore, when he speaks on these issues, we listen, and it is right and proper that we should.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked about the borders agency and the role of the police within it. There was a review, as the noble Lord will know, and we found that there were strong arguments in favour of a consolidated police border force but there were also strong arguments against. The key people that we talked to were divided on what they thought should happen. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is leading further work into that. The Association of Chief Police Officers is very pleased about that. We are making sure that the police work collaboratively. A senior police officer will be on the executive board; there will be better operational co-operation; a single lead official at ports and airports responsible for liaising with the police, drawing on the skills of the police, their expertise in training officers, and working jointly to look at controls at smaller ports and airports. My right honourable friend will come back when she has considered further how we might work closer together, so it is an issue that we take very seriously.

The noble Lord also asked about disruption to the public’s travel. Indeed, my right honourable friend was at pains to set out in the Statement that we want to make sure that disruption is minimal while also recognising that there are safety issues. Members of the Conservative Party asked what we would do within the Charities Bill and beyond to look at issues that are reasonably raised about extremism and the use of charities. That will be done properly and partly at the behest of noble Lords opposite. We will make sure that it does not create the unnecessary burdens that the noble Lord fears.

On asset freezing, my children take money out of bank accounts, not put it in, but that is an interesting thought; that is teenagers. But it is important that we do this in a proper and measured way, as the noble Lord says. I take those points on board and I am sure that will be part of it. As regards the individual that the noble Lord mentioned, I believe that my right honourable friend said to the right honourable Leader of the Opposition that he would write to him about individuals. I am sure that that letter will be copied to your Lordships' House and to the Lord, Lord Strathclyde. I shall ensure that that happens.

The relevant Bill will take account of the work of the privy counsellors who are reviewing intercept evidence and will allow that to happen, as I understand it. As regards interfaith issues and the questions raised about Christian, Jewish and other communities, the point about interfaith is to enable those collaborative approaches to take place. But as the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said, Muslim citizens are potentially the greatest victims of this terrorism.

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Therefore, we have to make sure that we are talking properly with Muslim communities right across the country.

Finally, I relate an anecdote from my time as an education Minister. After 9/11, I spent a day sitting in a Muslim girls’ school. The girls were terrified of going to school because of the way people treated them on the way to school. That treatment resulted from ignorance but none the less it had a huge impact on those young girls and was very distressing to witness. We have to make sure that we help and support the Muslim community who are critical to the success of what we are seeking to do. I take nothing away from what the noble Lord said but I put the emphasis in that direction.

4.13 pm

Lord Jopling: My Lords, has the noble Baroness’s attention been drawn to an extraordinary project by the Commission in Brussels to put together a list of critical infrastructures inside all the member countries of the European Union? Does she not agree that such a list would be a gift for potential terrorists? Is she further aware that the Government have quite rightly expressed their opposition to creating such a list? Will she give us an undertaking that the Government will redouble their efforts to kill this lunatic idea?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I am not aware of the list. My noble friend Lord West assures me that we have made it clear that we are not comfortable with it. On that basis, the noble Lord can be reassured that there is no proposal to put such a list in the public domain.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the Statement. I will reflect aloud on one or two issues. First, there is the language that frequently occurs in debates such as this about “the Muslim community”, as though there is only one; my experience is that there are very many. If we get our language wrong at the start, we shall be incapable of enabling the subtleties and nuances that are required to be developed. I hope that we can develop language that recognises the complexity of the situation in our country.

Secondly, while I welcome the concern about making our country safer, it somehow leads me to think that if we are not careful, we shall be scuttling from one fortified place to another down narrow corridors, flashing our ID cards wherever we go, with cameras catching us every time we sneeze. That would be terribly sad. While I recognise the need for us all to be safe, this is profoundly about humanity and the range of humanity in our country, and how we collectively work together on “hearts and minds” kind of stuff. If the amount of money that is likely to be put into soft architecture and barriers at stations could be directed with equal concern and excitement towards interfaith work, we should achieve a great deal more in the long term.

Thirdly—I speak as a former chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews—the amount of

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support that national bodies that have been working in this area for so long have received from the Government is so tiny as to make little effect. I very much hope that as the Government try to move forward they will have serious conversations with those bodies, such as the CCJ, that have existed since the middle of the Second World War, and ask them, “How do we learn from what you are doing?”.

Finally, I hope that real attention will be given to what is happening on the ground in small interfaith groups up and down the country in places such as Luton, St Albans and Bedford, where the amount of effort being put in by religious communities to create stability is remarkable. If we can support those people, that would be enormously helpful. I shall stop there by saying Amen.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate covered a lot. I apologise for making a wind-up sign, but there are only 20 minutes and many people may want to come in.

I will comment on only a couple of points, although I agree with much of what the right reverend Prelate said. I am guilty of using the wrong language as well. In the Statement, my right honourable friend was at great pains to point out the diversity within Islam and the different communities. One of the elements of the Prevent work is to look at and try to map out more the diversity of different cultures and communities to support and address that. As the right reverend Prelate will see when he reads it, funding for some interfaith work is in the Statement. We do not want to create anything that means scuttling from one fortress to another, but both through the ideas of design and building and through using technology appropriately we believe that we can keep people safer and allow them to go about their everyday business.

Lord Kilclooney: My Lords, my contribution will be a short question. I was interested in the reference in the Statement to the United Kingdom Border Agency. Will the units of that agency operate throughout the whole of Great Britain or throughout the whole of the United Kingdom?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I fear that I have been asked this question before by the noble Lord and I did not give him a satisfactory answer. I know that there are issues to do with how we relate both in the United Kingdom and with Great Britain. I will write to the noble Lord to set it out properly, so that I answer him effectively this time.

Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, the Statement holds out the prospect of a further considerable increase in the staffing of the Security Service, MI5. What confidence do the Government have that it will be able to recruit people of appropriate quality in sufficient numbers and develop and train them to be able to meet the timescale? The Government rightly recognise that this struggle will not be won simply and solely by the professionals and the Statement spoke of the importance of increasing the capacity of the community. Will my noble friend

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tell us something about the insights that the Government have gained and a bit more about how they intend to arrive at a better understanding of the psychology of terrorism and the pathology of the terrorist so that we can hope to identify those who are susceptible to terrorism and extricate them from that? Does she accept that it is not realistic to expect to keep a whole citizenry in a permanent state of high alert? How do the Government expect to advise and assist our citizens to be appropriately and intelligently alert to the incubation of terrorism in our midst?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right that one of the key issues will be how to ensure that we can recruit effectively for the security services. Recruitment is going on and is being successful, but I take nothing away from the point raised by my noble friend about recruiting not being a simple and straightforward proposition. Secondly, in terms of the communities and understanding better the conditions that can lead people into terrorism—that is indeed the work that the Prevent strategy is undertaking; it is examining areas where we know that young people may be susceptible, who is approaching them and what their role is, how they are being brought into a network, the role of the internet, technology and so on. All of that is important. Finally, it is important that citizens are alert and vigilant without feeling that they are in a state of high alert at all times. The British public are extremely good at doing exactly that.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that in 2005 I had the privilege of serving on the Prime Minister’s task force on Muslim extremism? Looking at this complex and lengthy Statement, I see that much of our work, done rather in haste and a little bit on the back of an envelope, has come to some kind of fruition. I congratulate the Government on that. Many initiatives here deserve our support. I shall pick up one or two that I am engaged with.

The ESRC project involves critical academic research on some of the pathologies and psychologies that the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, mentioned a minute ago. I am delighted that the Government are committed wholeheartedly to supporting that, because that is what in the long term will give us the answers to some of the riddles about what drives our young people.

The Leader of the House did not quite answer questions on two areas about which I have reservations. One was the question of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, on the roadshow in Pakistan. The noble Baroness may know that I am a patron of the Pakistan human development commission. We have found that in terms of going out to young people and women in most poverty-stricken areas of Pakistan the battle for hearts and minds is not necessarily won through people coming in and talking to these people but through pure development aid and education. I hope that, following the commitment that the paper makes, DfID will indeed target its resources to Pakistan in that fashion.

My final question has been partially answered by the Minister, but I would like a bit more reassurance

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about the impact that these well meaning, wide-ranging measures will have on the Muslim community. Will she have in due course a more open and lengthy debate with that community and explain to us how much our vested interest lies in these measures?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I am very grateful for the work that the noble Baroness did on the task force and I hope that it is reassuring to see much of that work coming to fruition in the Statement. I agree with her on the need to support the work of the ESRC, which has the Government’s wholehearted support. I ran out of time regarding the work in Pakistan and I apologise for that. I take the point—DfID, the Foreign Office and the British Council will play a fundamental part in that and I agree completely with the noble Baroness that this is in large part about education, knowledge, support, training, opportunity and so on which are key to people being able to develop their own lives.


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