#AceNewsServices – BRITAIN (London) – September 01 – Press Statement Extract – Part Two – Relating to British Jihadists – ISIL.
The NATO summit in Wales this week will provide an opportunity for us to review the effectiveness of the international response so far and to discuss what more we should do to help the region overcome the ISIL threat. Britain will continue to consider what further role is in our national interests, including any further diplomatic, humanitarian or, indeed, military measures we might take.
Let me turn to how we address the terrorist threat at home. We have already taken a wide range of measures, including stopping suspects from travelling to the region by seizing passports, barring foreign nationals from re-entering the United Kingdom, legislating so that we can prosecute people for all terrorist activity, even where that activity takes place overseas, and bringing forward emergency legislation, for instance to safeguard our use of communications data.
We have also stepped up our operational response, with a fivefold increase in Syria-related arrests and the removal of 28,000 pieces of extremist material from the internet this year alone, including 46 ISIL-related videos.
But I have said all along that there should not be a knee-jerk reaction or the introduction of sweeping new blanket powers that would ultimately be ineffective. That is not what those who work so hard to keep us safe actually want. They want a targeted approach that reflects a forensic focus on the threat we face and that protects their operational independence and decision making.
To achieve this, there are 2 key areas where we need to strengthen our powers to fill specific gaps in our armoury: preventing suspects from travelling; and dealing decisively with those already here who pose a risk. I want to mention both briefly.
First, on stopping people travelling in the first place, passports are not an automatic right. The Home Secretary already has the discretion to issue, revoke and refuse passports under the royal prerogative if there is reason to believe that people are planning to take part in terrorist-related activity. When police suspect a traveller at the border, however, they are not currently able to apply for the royal prerogative and so have only limited stop-and-search powers.
To fill that gap, we will introduce specific and targeted legislation providing the police with a temporary power to seize a passport at the border, during which time they will be able to investigate the individual concerned. This power will include appropriate safeguards and, of course, oversight arrangements.
The House should also be aware that our current royal prerogative powers are being challenged in the courts. I want to be clear: if there is any judgement that threatens the operation of our existing powers, we will introduce primary legislation immediately so that Parliament, not the courts, can determine whether it is right that we have this power.
I can announce today that we will start preparing the primary legislation and consult Parliament on the draft clauses.
As well as stopping people going, we must also keep out foreign fighters who would pose a threat to the UK. We already have important powers to block return: we can deprive dual nationals of their citizenship to stop them returning; we can bar foreign nationals on the basis of the threat they pose; and we legislated, in the Immigration Act 2014, to allow stronger powers to strip citizenship from naturalised Britons.
But, of course, these powers do not apply to those who are solely British nationals, who could be rendered stateless if deprived of citizenship.
Some have said that we should deal with this gap by criminalising travel to certain individual countries or fundamentally changing our criminal burden of proof. The government are clear that it would be wrong to deal with the gap by fundamentally changing core principles of our criminal justice system. But it is abhorrent that people who declare their allegiance elsewhere can return to the United Kingdom and pose a threat to our national security.
We are clear in principle that what we need is a targeted, discretionary power to allow us to exclude British nationals from the UK. We will work up proposals on this basis with our agencies, in line with our international obligations, and discuss the details on a cross-party basis.
We are also putting our long-standing arrangements on aviation security around the world on a statutory footing. Airlines will have to comply with our no-fly list arrangements, give us information on passenger lists and comply with our security screening requirements. If they do not do so, their flights will not be able to land in Britain.
Secondly, we need stronger powers to manage the risk posed by suspected extremists who are already in the United Kingdom. The Home Secretary can already impose terrorism prevention and investigation measures on security grounds, including overnight residence requirements and internet restrictions, but the intelligence agencies and the police believe they need stronger powers to impose further restrictions, and the independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, David Anderson, agrees.
So we will introduce new powers to add to our existing terrorism prevention and investigation measures, including stronger locational constraints on suspects under TPIMs, either through enhanced use of exclusion zones or though relocation powers.
Dealing with the terrorist threat is about not just new powers but how we combat extremism in all its forms. That is why we have a new approach to tackling radicalisation, focusing on all types of extremism, not just violent extremism. This has included stopping the funding of organisations that promote extremism, banning hate preachers and ensuring that every part of government, from schools and universities to prisons, is focused on beating the scourge of extremism. As part of this, we are now putting our de-radicalisation programme, Channel, on a statutory footing.
Anyone subject to our strengthened terrorism prevention and investigation measures will be required to engage with the Prevent programme.
We are proud to be an open, free and tolerant nation, but that tolerance must never be confused with a passive acceptance of cultures living separate lives or of people behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values. Adhering to British values is not an option or a choice; it is a duty for all those who live in these islands.
So we will stand up for our values; we will, in the end, defeat this extremism; and we will secure our way of life for generations to come.
I commend this statement to the House.