Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill

Mark made the following contributions to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.

Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): Although I agree with the shadow Minister that that amendment does, in principle, have some merit and that it focuses the mind on the fact that we need consolidating legislation to deal with a whole range of different terrorism-related issues, does he not recognise that the raw logic of his proposal is that if such a sunset clause is agreed, the provisions could end up entirely unprotected if the Government did not introduce any new legislation at that point? That would not be a desirable state of affairs.

Mr Hanson: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has looked carefully at amendment 29, which states:

“This section shall be repealed on 31 December 2016 unless both Houses of Parliament have passed a resolution that it should continue in force”.

Mark Field: The shadow Minister is making some fair points and I think the whole House would broadly support the idea that we need to consider how the Bill will be applied in practice. We all recognise that the new powers raise some legitimate concerns relating to civil liberties. Rather than having a sunset clause, has the right hon. Gentleman given some thought to the idea of imposing on the Home Office an obligation, within a year of the Bill being enacted, to produce a full report on the workings of this novel change in procedure?

Mr Hanson: We did consider those matters and I originally drafted an amendment that sought to do that. I could have tabled it last Thursday but I decided to focus our debate on whether the legislation is fit for purpose.

Mark Field: Perhaps I do not share the great faith in the bureaucratic competence of the Home Office that was expressed by the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn)—

Jeremy Corbyn: It was the opposite.

Mark Field: I guessed that that was the case. I was being slightly ironic. One issue with the notion that we could have appeals is that if there was a great emergency and the passports of many dozens or even many hundreds of people were seized, the appeals process would become unwieldy. One hopes that such a situation will not come about. If there was a small number of individuals at any one time, it would be quite manageable, but if there was a large number, that would make it more difficult.

Mr Hanson: We do not yet know on how many occasions the power will be exercised.

Mark Field: I do not wish to cast judgment on the two proposed processes, but does the hon. Lady not recognise that the arrest and bail process would probably involve a higher threshold than mere passport seizure? Considerably fewer people would therefore be subject to it, so it might not make the rest of us much safer. The Government’s intention in using passport seizure is to stop those who wish to escape these shores—they will not necessarily be guilty of any offence before doing so.

Caroline Lucas: I thank the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think his point stands up. Under new clause 8, an individual considered to pose an immediate risk to the country could be detained rather than being left to the roam the UK, as would happen under the Government’s proposal. If they were not considered to pose an immediate risk, they could be bailed and their passport seized. Seizing a passport as part of the bail process would be more effective than what I believe he proposes.

Mark Field: The problem is not that there would be a risk of people roaming through the UK and being a direct and immediate risk to other UK citizens. It is that they might leave these shores to carry out terrorist activity abroad.

Caroline Lucas: I do not see that as being more of a risk under my new clause, the advantage of which would be that we would not be involved in a so-called stop-and-seizure approach, which we know is often not effective.