The Intelligence and Security Committee – on which I sit – is the committee that scrutinises and holds the UK Government to account for its action over national security issues.
We previously undertook an investigation into rendition but had to conclude it as the UK Government refused our access to certain witnesses. We expect the news of a judge led inquiry into rendition should be announced in the next few days.
I asked the de facto Deputy Prime Minister if this judge led inquiry would have access to all witnesses including the ones that our committee could not hear from. The Minister did not reply to the details of my question but said he was listening to my challenge.
During Home Office questions my colleague Yvette Cooper MP asked the Home Secretary how many police officers would be recruited to increase our ability to tackle extremists and their terrorist activities. No answer was forthcoming so I used my question to ask the Home Secretary once more how many officers would be employed and when.
Not only did the Government frontbench feel that it was appropriate to snort at the call for more police the Home Secretary said it wasn’t the most important aspect of tackling terrorism. As a former Security and Policing Minister I can tell you that the number of bobbies on the beat in communities really does make a difference.
It is also important to remember that when the Home Secretary was running for leadership of the Tories he pledged to recruit another 20,000 officers. Miraculously now that he is no longer a candidate for the leadership he has forgotten this pledge despite the fact he occupies the one job in government where he could recruit more police.
Following the Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels to take part in the Council of Ministers – the forum where Ministers/Prime Ministers from every elected government meet to set the direction of travel within the EU – she returned to the House of Commons to give a statement on its conclusions. The meeting with primarily focused on security and climate change.
That is why I asked the Prime Minister if she would confirm that leaving the EU in a no deal scenario would mean that we lose access to EUROPOL, EUROJUST, the European Arrest Warrant and SIS 2 – the border security monitoring databases.
As an outgoing Prime Minister I would have hoped for straight talking answers. She has no need to try and defend herself from her backbenches as they have already started selecting their next leader. The Prime Minister should have confirmed that we would lose access to these vital security measures. Instead she focused on internet security. It is time we had a grown up discussion about a no deal Brexit. Something this UK Government will not have.
During an interview with LBC radio the Home Secretary stated that he would spend £500million, plus annual costs, on the Northern Ireland border. This was without scrutiny from Parliament or publication of the figures for wider consultation.
It would appear that this number was plucked out of thin air during the interview to ensure a favourable reaction in his bid to be the next Prime Minister. We cannot run our government in this way.
That is why I raised these figures in the House of Commons. The Secretary of State didn’t answer my question and instead hid behind his Minister of State for Security who tells us that the Home Secretary has no recollection of these figures and asked that I write to him.
I have done just that, with a copy of the quotes from the interview. I hope that this will jog the memory of the Home Secretary and we can get some honest answers.