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They are: the nature and scale of an organisation's activities; the specific threat that it poses to the United Kingdom; the specific threat that it poses to British nationals overseas; the organisation's presence in the United Kingdom; and the need to support other members of the international community in tackling terrorism. Proscription is a tough but necessary power, and its effect is that the proscribed organisation is outlawed and is unable to operate in the UK. The consequence of proscription is that specific criminal offences apply in relation to a proscribed organisation. These include membership of the organisation, the provision of various forms of support including organising or addressing a meeting, and wearing or displaying an article indicating membership of the organisation. Further criminal offences exist in relation to fundraising and various uses of money and property for the benefit of the organisation.
Given the wide-ranging impact of proscription, the Home Secretary exercises his power to proscribe an organisation only after thoroughly reviewing all the available relevant information on the organisation. This includes open source material as well as intelligence material, legal advice, and advice that reflects consultation across government, including with the intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Decisions on proscription are taken with great care by the Home Secretary, and it is also right that both Houses must consider the case for proscribing new organisations. Having carefully considered all the evidence, the Home Secretary firmly believes that Al-Shabaab is currently concerned in terrorism.
Although noble Lords will appreciate that I am unable to go into much detail of the evidence, I can summarise that the group has waged a violent campaign against the Somali Transitional Federal Government and African Union peacekeeping troops in Somalia since the beginning of 2007. A feature of its campaign has been the adoption of terrorist tactics such as suicide operations and roadside bombings. It has mounted numerous such operations since 2007, including, for example, a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in June 2009 in Beledweyne, one of the largest cities in Somalia, killing the TFG security Minister and around 30 others in the process.
The group has also launched terrorist attacks outside areas under its control, most notably in October 2008 when five co-ordinated suicide attacks were mounted against targets in Somaliland and Puntland, including the Ethiopian embassy, presidential palace and UN Development Programme compound. In September last year, Al-Shabaab released a video statement in which it pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and, on 2 February 2010, members of the group announced their intention to combine the jihad in the Horn of Africa with the global jihad led by AQ.
The proscription of Al-Shabaab will contribute to making the UK a hostile environment for terrorists and their supporters and will signal our condemnation of the terrorist attacks that the group continues to carry out in Somalia. Proscription will also show international solidarity against the organisation. Indeed, there is general international consensus in the condemnation of the organisation's activities. For example, it is already proscribed by the US, Australia and New Zealand. Proscription will also enable the police to carry out disruptive action more effectively against its supporters in the UK. It will also send a strong message that the UK is not willing to tolerate terrorism either here or anywhere else in the world.
I understand that there may be concerns, particularly among the UK-based Somali population, about the impact of proscription. I reassure noble Lords that, providing UK law is complied with, the proscription of Al-Shabaab will not prevent the Somali community from visiting Somalia or from sending money to relatives. Furthermore, it will not prevent the Somali community from openly discussing issues pertinent to them and the situation in Somalia.
It is clear that Al-Shabaab is not representative of Somali or Muslim communities in the United Kingdom, and I am aware that many such community groups have spoken out strongly against the organisation and its activities. Proscription is not targeted at any particular faith or social grouping, but is based on evidence that the organisation is concerned in terrorism.
As a final point, I have already said that the Government recognise that proscription is a tough power that can have a wide-ranging impact. Because of that, there is an appeal mechanism in the legislation. Any organisation that is proscribed, or anyone affected by the proscription of an organisation, can apply to the Home Secretary for the organisation to be de-proscribed. If that is refused, the applicant can appeal to the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission, POAC, a special tribunal which reviews whether the Home Secretary has properly exercised his powers to refuse to de-proscribe the organisation. POAC is able to consider the sensitive material that often underpins proscription decisions, and a special advocate can be appointed to represent the interests of the applicant in closed sessions of the commission.
Given the ample evidence of Al-Shabaab's concern in terrorism, I believe that it is right that we add the organisation to the list of proscribed organisations under Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000. I commend the order to the House. I beg to move.
Baroness Neville-Jones: My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining the order. We on these Benches support it without reservation, for the reasons that he set out. However, I have one or two questions for the Minister. The order proscribes Al-Shabaab, a group well-known for its violent campaign against the Somali Transitional Federal Government and African Union peacekeeping troops but, just as other terrorist groups use alternative names, so does Al-Shabaab. My question is: does the proscription order include Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, Mujahidin al-Shabab Movement, Mujahadeen Youth
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The Minister mentioned that Al-Shabaab has a UK presence, obviously through the diaspora community. It would be interesting to know for how long the Government have been aware of the group's presence in the UK and how large he believes it to be. He mentioned that it has been involved in sending people overseas to engage in terrorism and, I might add, in financial facilitation, which is an increasing issue. Can he give the House any figures for the amount of money that is suspected to have been transferred from UK sources or for the number of Somalis suspected of having travelled from the UK to engage in terrorist activities in Somalia, including training? It is clear, is it not, that one of our increasing preoccupations is with Somalia as a base for terrorism?
Does the Minister agree that it will be difficult to tackle the informal hawala money transfer system? Part of the task that we need to engage in, apart from proscription, is closing down such channels. Can he say anything about that?
The Minister also rightly said that proscription will facilitate the police in disrupting activities. What, if anything, are the Government able to do to encourage UK diaspora communities here to exercise their responsibilities regarding that group? Obviously, we need to encourage people not to support it. As noble Lords, know, we take the view that it is very important for the Government to promote the notion of shared values. Is anything being done to surround the proscription order in the area of what we might call "Prevent"?
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for explaining the order. Al-Shabaab will have expected to be banned in the UK, as it has been in many other countries. No doubt it will welcome the order. When it was added to the American list of banned organisations, a senior operative is reported to have told the BBC that the organisation felt honoured to be included on the list and that it was on the right path-a usual characteristic of martyrdom. Having read what this group does and has done, including its near-daily attacks against aid groups and the African Union peacekeepers, one of the most chilling things was to see that its name is Arabic for "youth". Its members are very young and it makes a point of recruiting the young.
My questions are very similar to those of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, so I will not repeat the points that she has made. I look forward to hearing the Minister's responses. I have a couple of other questions, one of which is close to how the noble Baroness put it. Bearing in mind the need not to regard the group as in any way representative of all Somalis in this country or generally, can the Minister tell the House whether the Government have discussed the issue with the Somali community in the UK? Also-again, almost the same question as one of the noble Baroness's-what recruitment has there been in the UK?
We will not vote against the order. This is clearly a very nasty group. We well understand what the Government are doing. However, the Minister will
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I have one more question with regard to the name of the group. I think I have seen it called a small variety of similar names. I assume, but will welcome any confirmation, that the English spelling is not definitive in that, however the group's name is transliterated into English, it will be caught by the order.
I wish I could think that what we are doing today will give practical help to the people in Somalia who have suffered very much at the hands of this group. However, we are passing the order and we will see it on its way from these Benches.
Baroness Falkner of Margravine: My Lords, I have a follow-up question, further to those of my noble friend Lady Hamwee about the Somali community here. In my experience, when these small, foreign-based organisations are proscribed in this country, young people in particular quite often do not realise that the organisation they are signing up to-through friends from the youth centre or via the internet-is proscribed here. Are there Somali-language newspapers or communication channels where the proscription orders are posted? My experience of other groups that have been proscribed in the last few years has been that sometimes people who are sympathetic to the organisations do not realise that they are doing something unlawful by supporting the group.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, I have one question. The Minister referred, rightly, to the atrocities that were committed by this group in Somaliland. Have the Government had any discussions with Somaliland about whether a banning order might be issued there?
Lord West of Spithead: I thank noble Lords for their input to this debate and I am pleased that people are generally supportive. I shall answer some of the specific questions from the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, touched on by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. She is right that it is important to catch all of these names and aliases. We saw this with al-Muhajiroun/Isalm4UK and so on. Some of the names she gave are not exactly the same one. This is what is so difficult. We have to ensure that we capture all the names. In the past, they have changed the name-I suppose not cleverly-and we have been playing catch-up, so it is a relevant point. We are looking at this and we must make certain that we have all these names clearly so that they cannot slip through the net. We have not been as good at that as we should have been, and I refer to those two other names where we did not catch them. We have got to do that and the point is relevant and correct.
How long have we been aware of the presence of members of Al-Shabaab in this country? I would have to get back in writing but certainly we have been aware of that during my time in post. For two and a half years, therefore, we have been aware that there are people who are linked through to Al-Shabaab in this
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Since our Prevent strategy has come on line over the last two and a half years we have been getting better at this. RICU leads a programme to use the Somali language, media, newspapers and internet. In answer to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine, I am not sure that we have laid out the prescription on all of those and I will make sure that that is done because that makes sense. We do engage with them, however, on these issues.
One of the key things that proscription does is to get at the money. Therefore the issues of the hawala are very important. The hawala prove very difficult for us to get our hands on. Although it is very difficult, we are working at it. In other areas, including the ways we have looked at various charities, we are getting better at stopping the finance flows for these terrorists. Referring to the al-Qaeda core, for example, there is no doubt that they are really hurting. We know from intelligence that we are getting our hands round the throats of the money side of things and that makes a huge difference.
In terms of the Prevent strategy as well, when proscription is done this is looked at within the Prevent team to see what the impact will be at local level and within these communities. I did not mention that we have looked at the impact of this proscription order on Al-Shabaab and whether it will have an impact on DfID money flowing into the country and the ability for various NGOs and charities to work with people, because often these people are interlinked. The answer is we assess how we can go ahead without any problem on those issues. We just have to watch how that money flow goes and how it is done. It is an important point, however, and it was touched on by the speakers.
Lord West of Spithead: I do not know the exact answer to that. They are busy fighting them all the time, so I would hope they would have some mechanism in place, but I do not know whether it is a mechanism like this. They are in effect at war with this group. As one knows, they are engaged in fighting them around the capital almost daily. I doubt whether there is a similar mechanism, but I will look at this again.
I repeat that this is a matter of great importance. The order will contribute to our efforts to make the UK a hostile environment for terrorists. There is no doubt that Al-Shabaab meets all the criteria. We condemn what it does, which is pretty unpleasant. The violence is indiscriminate, and as such as I commend this instrument to the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, this Government are committed both to strengthening the United Kingdom border and to facilitating the entry of legitimate passengers into the country. To help us to achieve this, the UK Border Agency has taken advantage of new technologies that secure and manage the UK border. One such technology is automated gates. This order facilitates the entry of automated gate users into the UK by amending the Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000.
Before I explain why the order is necessary, I will give noble Lords some information about automated gates, which are already in use at some UK airports. Automated gates speed the passage of legitimate travellers across the UK border by allowing permitted passengers to enter the UK lawfully without having to queue up at the manual immigration control. Automated gates work by verifying a person's identity and making checks against Home Office systems to ensure that they are eligible to use the gates and enter the UK. If the person is eligible, the gates open and allow the person to enter the country. If the person is ineligible, the gates remain closed and the person is required to seek entry at the manual immigration control. Use of the gates is entirely voluntary.
The order is necessary because the current method of granting leave to enter to non-visa nationals who use automated gates is inefficient and outdated. Non-visa national users of IRIS automated gates are currently granted leave via a paper notice printed by the gates. When the gates' printers break down or run out of paper, the whole gate system is shut down and cannot be used by any passengers. Users also regularly forget to take their written notice from the gate, which then retracts the printout for security reasons, again taking the gates out of operation.
The order provides a better and more efficient method of granting leave to non-visa national gate users. It will allow a UK Border Agency officer to authorise a person as someone who may obtain leave
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In practice, the order will need to apply only to non-visa nationals, as the other types of traveller do not require leave to be granted when they seek entry into the UK. British citizens and EEA nationals do not require leave to enter the UK, visa nationals are granted leave in the form of a visa before they arrive in the UK, and foreign nationals who are settled in the UK already have limited or indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I trust that noble Lords will join me in supporting these provisions, which help us to deliver a safe and secure border while facilitating the entry of legitimate visitors into the country.
It currently costs the UK Border Agency more than £2 billion to maintain our world-class immigration system. To fund this, we operate the policy that those who benefit directly from our immigration system should contribute towards the costs of running the system, so that we can balance this with the interests of the general UK taxpayer. This year's fee review takes place against a difficult financial context for the UK Border Agency, public finances and the economy as a whole.
The regulations we are debating today are made under Section 51 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and in accordance with the powers granted in Section 42 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004, as amended by Section 20 of the UK Borders Act 2007. Under Section 42, the Secretary of State can set a fee for an application at a level that exceeds the administrative cost of determining the application.
The way our legal powers are defined means that we must also specify fees in separate regulations under the powers in Section 51 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. Those regulations set the fees for applications, processes and services that are provided at or below the administrative cost of determining the application. These regulations were laid in Parliament on 10 February, are subject to the negative process and are not debated. However, I am happy to take questions on the fees covered by those regulations in this debate.
This year, we have succeeded in limiting the extent of our general increases, by taking a more targeted approach to fees adjustment. We have also introduced some new chargeable services. The targeted increases include settlement visas. This better reflects the value of the product we offer and aligns the fee with the amounts paid by migrants coming to the United Kingdom under economic routes. We have increased the fee for long-term visit visas to reflect the value which these products represent to applicants. There is a £50 increase to the fee for tier 1 post-study route, which better aligns this fee with that paid by other applicants under
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New fees include a fee for all UK-based dependant applications to reflect the fact that each individual within any given application bears a processing cost to us as well as, sometimes, an independent set of entitlements for the individual. The majority of applicants are unaffected by this increase. There will be a new pilot service for premium biometric enrolment and caseworking. This is an optional service and will not affect any of the standard services on offer. A new dependant relative settlement fee, covering parents, grandparents and certain other relatives joining family members who are already settled in the UK, will reflect the excellent benefits to applicants, including the right to stay indefinitely in the UK and exemption from our English language requirements. It also better aligns this fee with the end-to-end fees paid by other migrants who settle in the United Kingdom.
We maintain our strong belief that fee levels should be sensitive to wider policy intentions and that the United Kingdom must remain internationally competitive. However, we are unable to deliver the immigration system demanded by the public if we keep fees at current levels. Our overall aim is to ensure that fees make an appropriate contribution to the end-to-end costs of the immigration system. I believe that these fees are in the best interests of the United Kingdom. I commend both instruments to the House.
Baroness Neville-Jones: My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing and explaining these orders, which we support. I have a few probing questions. On the first immigration order, I understand that currently there are two types of automated gate at UK borders. The first type, e-passport gates, are designed for use by British citizens and EEA nationals who hold second-generation biometric passports and are being trialled at 10 locations in the UK. Where are the locations and how long will the trials last? When is full rollout across the UK expected? That should greatly reduce the number of people who have to queue in order to have their passport swiped.
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