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Lord Lee of Trafford: My Lords, in the Statement on Afghanistan in the House on 16 June, reference was made to the “$10 Talibs”—paid foreign fighters. Given the apparent success of General Petraeus in Iraq in turning insurgents with money, are we offering inducements to buy off these Taliban mercenaries?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, we are not offering any such inducements. We have been clear that the Afghan Government themselves must lead efforts on any reconciliation with the Taliban, and that we would obviously support those efforts. At this point, the only kinds of incentives being discussed by the Government are long-term security incentives: new livelihoods, education, training and the opportunity to participate politically and economically in the government of the country. Our own financial support is limited to the Programme Tahkim-e-Solh, which provides support to the reconciliation process but does not pay former combatants.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, the Minister mentioned reconstruction. The Americans are acknowledged by British forces to be doing a far better job of supporting military successes locally with immediate civil infrastructure work. What steps are Her Majesty’s Government taking to achieve this in UK areas of operation?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, in a way, that is an apples-and-oranges comparison, particularly with the security threats our colleagues face in Helmand. We have just appointed a very senior civilian to oversee precisely this issue there, to ensure that our military activities and, coming in behind them, political and reconstruction support are joined-up, so that we get the benefits of the military victories.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, what support are our troops getting from the Government of Pakistan across the border? When we beat the Taliban, it appears that they run back to their shelters in Pakistan. Are we getting full co-operation?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord puts his finger on a major issue of both military and political strategy. The new Government in Pakistan have been undertaking a process of reconciliation of their own with the tribal leaders on that side of the border. We have pressed on that Government that the unintended consequences of those agreements should not be to allow these forces to have more liberty for their actions in Afghanistan in return for agreeing not to cause trouble in Pakistan. We continue to press to ensure that that does not happen.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, does the Minister believe that DfID is organised enough to deliver tactical effect as suggested by my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, we have that tactical effect through the provincial reconstruction teams. It is enormously important to move as quickly as possible to full engagement by local provincial government and governors—the Afghans themselves. DfID is doing a good job of ensuring that that second wave of reconstruction also happens.

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2.59 pm

Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, the UK strongly supports the draft UN Security Council resolution tabled by the United States which introduces targeted measures against the Zimbabwean regime. That is currently under discussion and will be a further powerful expression of the international community’s concern about the crisis in Zimbabwe, already expressed in the UN Security Council presidential statement of 23 June.

Lord Blaker: My Lords, if South Africa was to join in support of that resolution, would that not impose a travel ban on Robert Mugabe and 11 of his cronies? What would that mean in practical terms? Will it bring to an end the distasteful spectacle of Mugabe gallivanting around the world visiting UN conferences?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, we will have to wait to see the final words of the resolution but our purpose is to make sure that Robert Mugabe and his henchmen can no longer leave Zimbabwe. The resolution also intends to make sure that their banking assets and properties, wherever they hold them in the world, are subject to seizure. The purpose of this resolution is to tighten a global noose around an illegitimate regime.

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, what has been the response of African countries to the clear warning from the G8 issued just recently that their own interests will be adversely affected if they do not adopt more robust opposition to the Zimbabwean regime?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I assure my noble friend that my own visit to the AU summit last week convinced me that few African Governments do not fully share our view that this regime is not legitimate and that for the sake of Africa as well as the people of Zimbabwe it must be brought to an end as soon as possible. The disagreement, as always, is about how to achieve that, with a certain caution still about reinforcing diplomacy with sanctions. We have made it clear both at the G8 meeting today in Japan and in the Security Council that we have reached the point where negotiations must now be backed by the teeth of sanctions.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, will the noble Lord seek to ensure that the final texts of the Security Council resolution and the G8 insist that no interim Government be formed of which Mugabe is a part? Secondly, does he not see some incongruity between the Foreign Secretary addressing 2,000 victims of Mugabe’s terrorism in Johannesburg while at the same time the Home Secretary is causing letters to be sent to their counterparts in the UK cutting off their benefits and forcing them to return to Harare?

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Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I am glad the noble Lord raised that last point. I would see a large incongruity in that situation and am pleased to be able to reassure him that nobody is being returned against their will to Zimbabwe at this time. The Home Office is looking at what steps it can take to help support those who, because of circumstances in Zimbabwe, are forced to stay here.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, has the noble Lord seen the reports in today’s newspapers that rape is being increasingly used, often leading to HIV infection, as a weapon of war against supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change? Does he recall our recent exchanges about the possibility of referring these many crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court, overcoming the technical objections he said might exist in doing that?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, unlike six months ago, there is now no doubt that Mr Mugabe and those around him have committed crimes which deserve referral to the ICC. In the past, the crimes were of such ancient origin that they preceded the establishment of the court and were not covered by it. Any referral of a non-signatory such as Zimbabwe would be via the UN Security Council. At this stage, the Security Council is seized with sanctions. If the object of those sanctions—a change of Government in Zimbabwe—is not achieved, I suspect that this is one of several steps we would want to bring to the council as a possible next round of pressure.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, we are all agreed what should ideally be part of the response to this appalling situation in Zimbabwe, as quiet diplomacy finally fades and Zimbabwe slides into a gangster state. I have two practical questions for the Minister on what we are doing and perhaps what we should have been doing long ago. We have been arguing for a long time that we need to assemble, or encourage the assembly of, an international package for the recovery of Zimbabwe on the other side of Mugabe. Have we made any progress with that? It is important that it is put in place as soon as possible. Secondly, exactly what advice are we giving to major companies planning new investment in Zimbabwe? There appears to be a bit of ambiguity about that, and a clear lead is required.

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to clarify both points. On the first, planning has been led by the World Bank and other multilateral institutions, and has been co-ordinated on the bilateral side by Sweden, to make sure that plans are in place for the hoped-for period of recovery of the country. There has been an estimate that that would cost at least $1 billion a year for five years. Not having seen the books of Zimbabwe, that is still a bit of a rough estimate. There is no doubt that any new Government will face an immediate crisis in trying to establish their political authority while ending a hyperinflation running at millions of per cent. That would make ruling Weimar Germany look positively easy by comparison.

Secondly, we are trying to be very clear with companies, specifically on new investment. I can give a very simple answer; we would discourage any company from undertaking new investment at this time on political,

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commercial and ethical grounds. If there was more time, I would be happy to provide the noble Lord with the arguments that we are making on sanctions, which, at their simplest, remain about how we can target the companies and individuals around Mr Mugabe, while protecting the people at large. Not all the activities of every British company fall into the second category. Some preserve jobs and well-being for Zimbabweans without directly supporting the regime.


3.07 pm

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, with permission, I advise the House that if Back-Bench contributions to today’s Second Reading of the Counter-Terrorism Bill are kept to seven minutes, we should be able to rise tonight at around the target rising time of 10 pm.

I take the opportunity to remind the House of the guidance offered in the Companion on attendance at debates:

Retail Development Bill [HL]

3.08 pm

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to acquaint the House that they, having been informed of the purport of the Retail Development Bill, have consented to place their Prerogative and Interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Read a third time; an amendment (privilege) made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

Counter-Terrorism Bill

3.10 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

We face an unprecedented terrorist threat. In film sound-bite terms, there is “a clear and present danger” to our population. Indeed, the prime reason for my agreement to join the Government was the level of threat and the belief—I hope, not misguided—that perhaps I could do something, no matter how small, to enhance the safety of our people and nation.

The terrorists are more ruthless than those we have faced in the past: they aim at causing mass civilian casualties without prior warning, involving suicide attacks. Plus they have the aspiration to use chemical, biological or radiological weapons. The threat is international, drawing on loosely affiliated networks across the globe that travel and share experience, training and funds.

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The threat is much more complex than historically, with multiple connections in many countries and terrorists exploiting new technology not only to plan and perpetrate attacks but to cover their tracks and hinder investigation. It is of an unprecedented scale, with more than 200 groupings or networks and around 2,000 individuals of concern to the police and security service in the United Kingdom alone. This figure is the highest it has been. It is not a spike but represents a sustained level of activity by those who wish to undermine the fundamental values that all of us, including the vast majority of Muslims, share.

This threat demands a co-ordinated and multifaceted response from all of us. That is why we have made far-reaching changes to our counterterrorism strategy and created the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism to co-ordinate our response. That office has become a real centre of excellence, and we have made huge strides in the past year. We have significantly increased the resources available to deal with terrorism, with Security Service staffing now double the pre-9/11 level, and more than £1 billion being added to the security budget by 2011.

We have also—this is important—redoubled our efforts to prevent violent extremism taking hold in the first place. Our long-term challenge, and our priority, must be to stop people becoming or supporting terrorists, and we have provided new funding to support communities and organisations who are taking on and disrupting those who promote violent extremism. We must continue to pursue vigorously those who commit terrorist crimes and bring them to justice.

Since the beginning of 2007 alone, 68 terrorists have been convicted. As the DPP has made clear, the CPS is currently enjoying a 92 per cent successful conviction rate in terrorist cases compared with 77 per cent for other crimes. It is also the case that nearly half of those convicted pleaded guilty to their crimes. This shows, I believe, that the actions we are taking are working. But as the threat from terrorism evolves so our laws must change and we must continue to ensure that the front-line agencies have the right legal tools they need to do the job. One of the arrows in our quiver of measures to remove the cancer of extremist terrorism is our anti-terrorist legislation. That is why we have comprehensively reviewed it to ensure that it remains effective. This review identified a number of areas where our laws needed strengthening, and these are covered by the measures in the Bill. In particular, these measures will ensure that better use can be made of information when taking action against terrorists and that we have effective measures in place to deal with terrorist suspects after they have been charged and convicted.

On the first of these, the Bill contains measures to provide a proper statutory framework to retain and use DNA and other forensic material related to terrorism; to provide statutory gateways for sharing information with the security and intelligence agencies; and to make sure that all information can be used for defined challenges against asset-freezing decisions. The Bill will also allow the questioning of terrorist subjects after charge, a measure that has broad consensus from

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all sides. Together with the other measures in the Bill, we believe that this will help the police and prosecutors to ensure more successful convictions.

Post conviction, the Bill will ensure that those found guilty of terrorist-related offences receive a sentence that reflects the seriousness of their crimes. There will also be a new requirement for convicted terrorists to provide the police with key personal information when they are released from custody, thereby strengthening the arrangements for monitoring terrorist offenders in the community.

In addition to these measures, the Bill contains new powers covering the removal of documents for examination, new offences relating to information about the Armed Forces and others, and new provisions relating to control orders, forfeiture and the policing of gas facilities. We have consulted widely, and the proposals have been scrutinised by relevant committees in Parliament, and by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. As a result, I believe that many measures in the Bill have already achieved broad support.

However, I accept that there is not a consensus on everything, and I turn now to the issue of pre-charge detention, which has caused most debate, both inside and outside Parliament. Two factors are relevant to the issue of pre-charge detention, and to my assessment that there will be exceptional cases where the police will require more than 28 days to frame charges. First, because of the severe consequences of a successful terrorist attack, the police often need to intervene much earlier in terrorist cases. They cannot afford—and I would not want them to—to wait until an attack has happened, and may need to step in at a very early stage of an investigation, before they have had the chance to gather admissible evidence. In the Dhiren Barot case, for example, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the then National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations, said that,

at the point of arrest. This is different from what happens in most other crimes, where there are victims, witnesses and forensic material that can be used as evidence. Barot subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 years.

Secondly, the clear trend is for terrorist investigations to grow in scale and complexity. In 2001, for example, when the police investigated the last major IRA case, they had to analyse the contents of one computer and a handful of floppy disks. The suspects used their own names, and their activities were confined to the Republic of Ireland and the UK. In 2004, the investigation into Dhiren Barot involved the seizure of 270 computers, 2,000 computer disks and 8,224 exhibits. There were seven co-conspirators and, during the investigation, police carried out enquiries in the United States of America, Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, France, Spain and Sweden. I make no apologies for banging this home. In another recent case, 30 addresses were searched within two hours of the start of the arrest phase of the operation; and 400 computers and 8,000 computer disks were seized, along with more than 25,000 exhibits.

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I have looked in detail at the possibility of throwing resources—both people and money—at the problem, to reduce timescales and boost our technical capability of looking at these things. However, the choke points of other jurisdictions and encryption mean that this will not solve the problem. In addition, the consequences of radiation, chemical or biological contamination could delay investigations by days if not weeks. I fear that all the indications are—and I do not say this lightly—that it is not a matter of if such an attack will be plotted, but when.

As a result of the increasing complexity of investigations, and the need to intervene early, the police have held 11 suspects for more than 14 days before charging them. Investigations have already needed all 28 days, and the indications are that this may be insufficient in future. That is why the police asked us to look again at the issue. The question we face is: will there be a potential need for pre-charge detention of more than 28 days? I have looked at this in depth for nearly 12 months and I believe that there will. Therefore, we face the problem of whether to legislate now. I believe that it is better for us to legislate calmly, on a precautionary basis, than to find ourselves scrambling for emergency legislation in the heat of a serious operation. That is why we have included in the Bill a proposal to extend the pre-charge detention limit in future if required.

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