Taken from yesterdays Hansard.
Counter Terrorism and Security BillSir William Cash: I am concerned, and have been for a long time, about the apparent not indifference to but unawareness of the danger facing citizens of the United Kingdom if jihadists of the kind I will describe in moment—my amendment 22 provides a definition—return to the UK and commit horrible and appalling atrocities similar to that which we witnessed in the case of Lee Rigby. I ask hon. Members to think about what they would say if one of their constituents were murdered in that unbelievably atrocious manner. I also ask them to consider whether there are people among the many hundreds—some suggest thousands—who have already gone abroad who may wish to return under cover of their jihadist activity and perpetrate and perpetuate their activities in our own homeland of the United Kingdom. If such murders and atrocities were committed, would our constituents and the British public as a whole think it right that those people had a right of abode here? I think that most of the British public would say that if the circumstances defined in my amendment were complied with, they would not want those people to return to the United Kingdom.
One then turns to the question of whether those people’s human rights and the issue of statelessness are such that they should override those considerations. I am profoundly concerned and disturbed to hear some colleagues suggest that a person’s right of abode, so-called human rights and the need not to be rendered stateless are so overriding that they should prevail even in the circumstances I have described and even following the atrocities that I fear could occur.
I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) for his support, but I happen to know from discussions I have had that many other Members very much agree with the sentiments expressed in my amendments. I sincerely trust that, whatever happens—I have yet to decide whether I will press my amendment to a vote—the matter can be looked at again in the House of Lords.
I have heard on many occasions, both from Front Benchers and others, about the evidence that the Joint Committee on Human Rights received from Mr David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism. I have looked at those proceedings, but nobody asked any questions about the 1961 convention on the reduction of statelessness, which lies at the heart of the issue. In September I heard Mr Anderson and others, some of whom are present, on the “Today” programme, strongly asserting the arguments that have now been made on the Floor of the House. I wonder whether they have reflected on the implications for the British public if we do not take proper measures to exclude the right people,
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by which I mean those who are pronounced jihadists and who, if they were to return, would by all accounts be likely to perpetrate the kinds of atrocities I have mentioned.
When the Prime Minister made his statement on 1 September 2014, I was concerned, having just heard so many contributions on the radio, about the importance attached to people not being made stateless and so forth, and about their human rights being of such overriding importance, irrespective of the impact they might have on the public or of individuals being murdered in atrocious circumstances. I asked the Prime Minister:
“On the matter of statelessness and preventing British terrorist jihadists from returning to the United Kingdom, has my right hon. Friend been briefed that, under article 8 of the United Nations convention on statelessness, domestic legislation in certain countries may render a person stateless where he has acted inconsistently with his duty of loyalty, has behaved in a way prejudicial to the interests of the state or has declared allegiance to another state and shown evidence of repudiation of allegiance? Does he not accept that that is exactly where we are now, and that it would be extremely important to get that right so that the Leader of the Opposition”—who had made some derogatory remarks to the Prime Minister on that—
The Prime Minister replied:
“My hon. Friend makes a good point, which shows exactly why we need to discuss and examine this issue further. The reason why everyone will want us to examine this is that it absolutely sticks in the craw that someone can go from this country to Syria, declare jihad, make all sorts of plans to start doing us damage and then contemplate returning to Britain having declared their allegiance to another state. That is the problem that we need to address, and my hon. Friend will be useful in doing so.”—[Official Report, 1 September 2014; Vol. 585, c. 34.]Well, his hon. Friend will continue to be useful in that respect, because I think that it is very important that we properly examine in this debate not only potential atrocities but the legal basis on which arguments are presented both for and against such orders.
I have corresponded with the Minister for Security and Immigration. If he was good enough to listen, he might want to intervene because I am about to refer to our correspondence. I am failing in my attempt, so perhaps his Parliamentary Private Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman), could give him a nudge. [Interruption.] That is very good of him. I just want to let the Minister know that I am about to refer to correspondence between me and the Department.
I wrote to the Minister, and had a reply. I will not go into every aspect of it, but I found that I had to write to him again on 15 December. His letter alleged that the convention on the reduction of statelessness did not really apply, but I made a point about article 8(3). The beginning of article 8(1) of the convention—bear in mind that the United Kingdom has signed it—clearly says:
“A Contracting State shall not deprive a person of its nationality if such deprivation would render him stateless.”However, article 8(3) goes on:
“Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1…a Contracting State may retain the right to deprive a person of his nationality”.Some states have and some have not gone along with the arrangements, but the article goes on to give the basis on which a state may retain the right to deprive a
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person of his nationality, and that is very much in line with the proposed new subsection (6A) in my amendment 22. It is clearly founded on the exclusions from the provisions of article 8(1).
The Government have prescribed conditions A to D for temporary exclusion orders, which include making reasonable assumptions at certain decision-making points, all of which would be subject to judicial review. In line with the international convention on the reduction of statelessness 1961, and using almost the same words, I propose a new condition:
“Condition E is that the Secretary of State has provided evidence, whether or not conditions A to D are met, to substantiate that the individual has, inconsistently with his duty of loyalty to the United Kingdom, conducted himself in a manner seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom and that he has taken an oath, or made a formal declaration of allegiance to another state or”—to deal with ISIL—
“territory seized, governed or administered de facto by an organisation demanding allegiance to that organisation, having given definite evidence of his determination to repudiate his allegiance to the United Kingdom.”The decision is made on the basis not of whimsy but of someone repudiating allegiance to the United Kingdom and adopting allegiance to the new state or to a territory taken over by jihadists.
Given the potential danger to individual members of the British public, it seems to me inconceivable that we should not accept amendment 22. A lot of wishy-washy human rights waffle does not make any difference whatever to the reality of the present and clear danger facing the British people. It is going to happen, and if it does, I fear that those who have refused to listen will be responsible. It is no good talking about the common law or the human rights of the individuals concerned. The British people simply will not countenance it. I am certain of that fact.
Part of the issue turns on the question of allegiance, and Members should therefore be concerned to understand that acts constituting treason cover anyone who owes allegiance to the Crown. Anyone who owes commitment to the Crown may commit treason. The essence of the offence of treason lies in the violation of the allegiance owed to the sovereign. Natural allegiance is due from all British subjects at all times wherever they may be.
The House is clearly determined that there should be temporary exclusion orders for the circumstances described; in other words, before such people come back to this country, they can have an order imposed on them. If that assumption is used as the basis of temporary exclusion orders and the people in question are in fact guilty of treason on their own admission—they have provided definite evidence of repudiating their allegiance, and have claimed allegiance to a new state and/or territory of the kind I have described—then it absolutely follows that they fall full square within the proposal in my amendment 22 and should therefore not be allowed to return.