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Home Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 235-iii
Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Monday 16 December 2013
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, gave evidence.
Q172 Chair: I call the Committee to order and welcome the Home Secretary. This is part of the Select Committee’s normal examination of the Home Secretary. Today we are concentrating in particular on counter-terrorism as part of our counter-terrorism inquiries, but there are other issues, of course, that we will raise with her. Could I ask all Members present to declare any other interests other than what is in the Register of Members’ Interests? Thank you.
Home Secretary, could I start on counter-terrorism with the concerns of this Committee? We wrote to Andrew Parker and I have also written to Kim Darroch over a long-standing invitation for Kim Darroch to come and explain what the National Security Council was doing. You wrote back and said that you did not want Andrew Parker to appear before this Committee. Could you explain why?
Mrs May: Yes, Chairman. There is a structure, which is being established in parliamentary terms, that enables the proper oversight by Parliament of the security and intelligence agencies. That is the Intelligence and Security Committee, and that Committee takes evidence from the Director General of MI5, as it does indeed from the heads of the other security and intelligence agencies. As you will be aware, following the Justice and Security Act that this Government passed, those individuals now give evidence in public session to that Committee. That is an enhancement of the oversight that has taken place and it is on that basis that I think it is appropriate, given that that is the structure for Parliament to oversee those agencies, it is in that format that the Director General should give evidence, rather than to this Committee.
Q173 Chair: The Committee is unanimous on the view-there are no divisions between the parties-that if we are conducting an inquiry into counter-terrorism and we have heard a number of very serious points made by the editor of The Guardian in particular that we felt more appropriately put to Mr Parker, we really ought to be examining Mr Parker. I have had a look at the Act that set up the new arrangements and the debates that surrounded the arrangements, and nowhere in any of the debates has anyone said that, because there is an obligation to appear before the Intelligence and Security Committee, Mr Parker or anyone else should not appear before Home Affairs. Obviously, we scrutinise the work of the Home Office. You are the Home Secretary. You are ultimately responsible for the decisions that are taken.
While not criticising in any way the way in which the ISC does its job, the ISC members are nominated by the Prime Minister. The members of the Committee are not elected by Parliament. The names go before Parliament for approval. They do not run for election, in the same way as other parliamentary Committees have a session where people put their names forward and get elected. Of course, they brief the ISC and we have heard that the ISC obviously brief them about the questions that are being given. Given that they are appointed by the Prime Minister and that the Prime Minister also appoints the heads of the security services, do you not feel that there should be better transparency in respect of the way in which these matters operate?
Mrs May: The issue of transparency was indeed addressed by the new arrangements that were established in the Justice and Security Act. Obviously, prior to those new arrangements it was not the case that the intelligence heads gave evidence in public to the ISC. That has happened for the first time. That took place a matter of a few weeks ago. As I say, that is the first time that that has taken place, but the ISC structure is the one that has been deemed the appropriate one. For obvious reasons in terms of those matters that it is necessary to discuss in secret, the ISC is the appropriate structure for the security and intelligence agency heads to give their comments, to be questioned and to be challenged on behalf of Parliament.
Q174 Chair: One of the problems is they made a number of assertions before the ISC that are highly relevant to what we are doing and if we do not hear from them, but only hear from you and you cannot give us anything more than you would normally give us as Home Secretary, then some of those questions and some of the statements that they have raised cannot be answered. I am going to give you an example. It was Mr Parker who told the ISC about what The Guardian has done, "It is the gift that they need to evade us and strike us at will." At the last hearing, we asked you whether you agreed with that assessment and you said, "I do indeed agree with it. It is a very clear statement."
Do you have any evidence to support what Mr Parker has said? Select Committees are about gathering evidence. Have you seen evidence? To use that as an example, he makes a statement and no one doubts the fact that he is able to make the statement. He has made the statement. No evidence was put before the ISC to justify that statement, or indeed the statement made by Sir John Sawers that our enemies are rubbing their hands with glee. These statements are made, but no evidence is put forward. Do you have any evidence today to support the views put forward by those two gentlemen?
Mrs May: Chairman, I might refer you to the evidence that I gave in my last appearance before this Committee, when I was challenged by Mr Ellis on this issue and he referred to the speech that the Director General of MI5 had given. In that speech the Director General said, "It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists." I would have thought it would have been-"obvious" is perhaps the wrong word to use, but if something is published that is based on leaked information, which gives any information about how certain operations-how security operations-are undertaken or, in the case of GCHQ, techniques that are used, that which normally is secret, that, by definition, would, of course, give information away to those who might benefit from having that information.
Chair: It may be obvious to you, Home Secretary, but, I am sorry, if somebody like Mr Parker and Sir John Sawers comes along and makes statements of this kind we want to see the evidence. These are not bland statements. These are highly emotional statements that enemies are sitting around the world rubbing their hands with glee because of what The Guardian has said. Have you seen any evidence?
Mrs May: I believe, I am aware-
Chair: No. Have you seen any evidence?
Mrs May: Chairman, by definition, the sort of information that you are looking for is information that is normally held secret.
Chair: Of course.
Mrs May: That is information that it is possible for the ISC to challenge the agency heads on in the secret programmes that they have in terms of the appearances that those individuals have in front of the ISC. That is the point about being able to give evidence to the ISC. What you are saying is, will I sit here and talk about things that otherwise might be the sort of information that is normally held secret?
Chair: No, I am not saying that.
Mrs May: The answer is I am afraid I am not going to talk to you about that sort of thing.
Chair: No, but I am not saying that.
Mrs May: It is my firm view that what has happened in relation to The Guardian- I am concerned-I am appalled-at the fact that we have a situation where leaked information is published, which could put at risk the lives of men and women who put themselves into dangerous situations on behalf of this country.
Q175 Chair: I am not asking you to go through every bit of technique that is operated by every single spy all over the country or all over the world. We are not interested in that. We are talking about parliamentary accountability here. You have not seen any evidence? We do not want you to discuss that evidence and we are happy to accept your assurance if you come before us as a Minister of the Crown and tell us you have seen evidence that supports what Mr Parker and Sir John Sawers have said. They have handed you evidence that means that they know that our enemies are rubbing their hands with glee. Have you seen such evidence or not? We are all appalled by everything, on one side or the other, depending on which side we are on. We are either appalled that it has been released or appalled that it has not been released. Being appalled is not evidence. Have you seen evidence?
Mrs May: I have obviously been in discussion with the agency for which I am responsible and I have been talking to them about the impact that the information that has been published has on the operations of those agencies responsible for national security and, on the basis of that, I am clear in my own mind that it is the case that, as the Director General of MI5 said, information that talks about the reach and limit of techniques that are used is indeed damaging.
Chair: Right. You have had discussions, but you have not had evidence. You have had discussions.
Mrs May: Chairman, I think we are about to dance on the head of a pin on this particular issue.
Chair: No, we are not.
Mrs May: We are. I have said to you-
Chair: I am not dancing. You may be dancing, but I am not.
Mrs May: I have been-
Chair: You have had discussions.
Mrs May: I look forward to seeing you on Strictly at any occasion, Chairman, but I have obviously been talking to, particularly, the agency that comes under the remit of the Home Office, namely MI5, about the leaked information that has been obtained by Mr Snowden and the impact that has. I am saying to you on the basis of what I have seen and heard I am firmly of the view that it is the case that this is damaging to national security.
Chair: Right, and that our enemies are rubbing their hands with glee?
Mrs May: I do not tend to use phrases like that, I have to say, Chairman.
Chair: No, exactly.
Mrs May: But I believe it is damaging to national security.
Chair: That is exactly why we needed to have the heads of the agencies here, so we could have asked them. We are very happy to see them in private, but you do not want us to see them at all.
Q176 Dr Huppert: We will have to go through the transcript, but I was struck that you did not just yes to some of the Chair’s questions, but can I make sure I understand the doctrine that you are trying to advance? Your letter talks about concerns about over-oversight-the Intelligence and Security Committee-at a time when around the world people are calling for more oversight. The principle has been established that the heads of the agencies can give evidence in public, that they can be seen and that they can give public speeches. All of that seems to be fine. The question is why it is not okay for them to come to a parliamentary Committee like this.
Is this a general principle, that we should have silos-that this Committee should only look at things that are in the Home Office or that no police officer should give evidence to other Committees-or does it just apply to the agencies, that they should not answer questions with the relevant Committees? It does lead people to suspect that they are just worried about answering questions when the people asking the questions have not been pre-approved and the questions have not been pre-agreed. It does lead to a sense of cynicism. What exactly is the doctrine you are proposing?
Mrs May: What I am proposing, Dr Huppert, is very simple, and I thought I had explained it in response to the very first question, which is this. There is a parliamentary system for oversight of the intelligence and security agencies. That parliamentary system is through the Intelligence and Security Committee. In the past that has always been behind closed doors; it has always been secret sessions. It is now the case, following changes that have been made, that it is possible for public evidence to be given to that Committee, but it is that Committee that has the responsibility. I would suggest to you that, precisely because that Committee is able to take evidence in secret from those organisations and has a long-standing responsibility for them, they are best-placed to know and to be able to challenge those agencies, which they do.
Q177 Dr Huppert: But similarly, this Committee does scrutiny of policing. That is one of our tasks and we do that quite regularly. We look at what is happening there. Would you make the same argument that the Transport Committee should not question police officers when it comes in their area? Counter-terrorism is something that we are responsible for scrutinising. While I would agree the ISC has a particular role in that, counter-terrorism-and MI5 in particular has a role with counter-terrorism-is very much the role of this body.
Mrs May: The reason why you have the Home Secretary in front of you is the Home Secretary is responsible for the Home Office, for which you have responsibility of scrutinising, and the counter-terrorism work that is done within the Home Office.
Chair: We may well need to have you more often as a result of what you have just said.
Q178 Mr Winnick: I wonder if I could ask you one or two questions relating to the information-details of Snowden-that has appeared in The Guardian. We understand from the Metropolitan Police in evidence that has been given to us, Home Secretary, that they are in the process of seeing whether any law has been broken. Are you aware of the ongoing investigation, though obviously it is a matter for the police and public prosecutions? Secondly, is the Attorney involved?
Mrs May: First of all, in relation to the investigation, precisely as you yourself have said, Mr Winnick, I am not party to that investigation. That is being undertaken by the police. They have operational independence and it is up to them to conduct that investigation.
Mr Winnick: And the Attorney?
Mrs May: That is a question to which I am not aware. I would not necessarily expect to be involved if the Attorney was involved. It is up to the police to decide how they conduct this investigation.
Q179 Mr Winnick: I am sure you are aware of the oral evidence given to us by your ministerial colleague, Norman Baker. When he appeared before us on 26 November, he was asked about what has appeared in The Guardian. In fact, he was asked by the Chair, "You do not think that the editor should be prosecuted?" Norman Baker replied, "That is a matter for the police to decide, whether there is evidence to prosecute, but I have personally seen no evidence that would justify that conclusion." Is that your view?
Mrs May: I leave decisions about whether prosecutions should take place to those whose responsibility it is to make the full and proper investigation. By definition, as I am not part of that investigation, I am not party to all the evidence that the police may be looking at. It is for them, with the Crown Prosecution Service, to decide whether prosecution is appropriate. That is not a decision for me to take. It is not a decision for politicians.
Mr Winnick: Yes. I did not really ask that. I asked whether you agreed with your ministerial colleague.
Mrs May: I thought I had, by implication, answered that question by saying that my view is that this is a matter for the operational independence of the police. It is for them to investigate. It is then for them to decide whether they wish to take that to the Crown Prosecution Service, and the CPS makes a decision about prosecution. That is an independent track of activity. I do not take decisions about whether or not people should be investigated or prosecuted. It would be entirely wrong for me to do so.
Q180 Mr Winnick: That is not in doubt. My question was somewhat different, but you have answered in your own way. It could have been some other paper-it so happens it is The Guardian-but do you accept that what has been published so far has led to a wide-ranging debate, certainly in Britain, the United States and elsewhere, about the extent of information gathering by the security agencies, including the ones in the United Kingdom? My question is, do you accept there has been such a debate arising from what The Guardian has published?
Mrs May: Obviously, there has been a debate following what has been published by The Guardian, but I would point out that that was not a debate that was lacking before The Guardian made its publications. Indeed, I have been challenged here on this issue by you, Mr Winnick-of national security versus privacy in relation to the Communications Data Bill the Government had previously brought forward. That whole question of where the balance between security and privacy lies is a debate that has been ongoing here in the United Kingdom. I have always been clear that without security you cannot enjoy your privacy.
Q181 Mr Winnick: Yes. Snowden did not decide to reveal his information to me for reasons that he will no doubt explain at some stage, but surely the amount of intelligence gathering and surveillance and the rest of it must have come as a surprise to many people, if not you, and hence the debate is of a somewhat different character than before Snowden.
Mrs May: As I said, obviously a debate has followed what has appeared in The Guardian, but it is not something completely new. It is a debate that has been entered into on a number of occasions. I cited the most recent occasion in relation to the Government’s proposals on a certain piece of legislation. This is a debate that was held under the last Government in terms of security versus privacy in a number of areas. It is ongoing and it is right that, in a democracy, we should have an ongoing debate about these issues so that we make sure we always get that balance right.
Q182 Mr Winnick: In that wide-ranging debate would you accept there is concern, which perhaps you do not share, that the editor of a newspaper has the possibility of a prosecution hanging over him for publishing matters that many people consider to be in the public interest?
Mrs May: That is certainly an argument that is put by some. The alternative argument that indeed indicates that publication may affect issues that relate to national security has also been put. That is why it is important that any decisions on this are properly taken following investigation by the police and by the Crown Prosecution Service as an entirely independent track of decision-taking.
Q183 Chair: It is reported in The Guardian today that NSA officials are considering an amnesty for Mr Snowden. Would you favour that because it would mean the return of the files that he presumably still has?
Mrs May: First of all, you are making an assumption about what that might mean. Any decision by the NSA as to how they wish to-
Chair: No, I am not making an assumption. I am just repeating what is in the national media, so I am not making any assumptions.
Mrs May: I apologise, Chairman. I thought you had made an assumption about the return of material in relation to the suggestion of an amnesty, but any decision as to whether the American authorities wish to undertake an amnesty for Mr Snowden is entirely a matter for them.
Chair: Would you expect to be consulted, given the role that we have played as a Government in supporting what the Americans have done? As Home Secretary, would you expect someone to ring you up and talk to you about it or would you think that Washington would make the decision on their own?
Mrs May: Obviously, the United Kingdom had interests in relation to this. Those have been made absolutely clear, but this was an individual who was working for a contractor that was contracted to the National Security Agency in the United States, and, of course, they will be looking and making a decision as to what action they wish to take.
Chair: You do not mind if you are not consulted?
Mrs May: The decision as to what action will be taken will be one that will be taken by the NSA and the American authorities.
Chair: Alone? Yes, I see. Very helpful.
Q184 Michael Ellis: Home Secretary, Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian came to this Committee and he is not a public servant, yet the Director General of MI5 is a very well paid public servant. I suspect he is one of those officials paid more than the Prime Minister. He does not come to this Committee, but he makes public speeches before the Royal United Services Institute and there are briefings to journalists prior to and post that sort of speech. He also feels able to make melodramatic sound bites like "a gift to evade us" and his colleagues make other sound bites to put across their points in the Intelligence and Security Committee. Do you not think it would be appropriate in all of those circumstances for such a senior public servant to come to this Committee and follow up those sorts of statement with evidence before this Committee?
Mrs May: Mr Ellis, I am afraid I will probably disappoint you because I will give the answer that, in fact, I have given to others who have asked me on this, which is that I think that we have a parliamentary structure for the parliamentary oversight of the security and intelligence agency heads. That is the Intelligence and Security Committee and I think it is right that it is that Committee that challenges and holds those individuals to account. As I said, it is now the case that they have started taking public evidence sessions from those individuals. That did not used to be the case. That is a move that has been taken under this Government, and obviously we have also taken steps in the Justice and Security Act to enhance the role of the Intelligence and Security Committee, and I think it remains right that it is that body before which Mr Parker appears.
Q185 Michael Ellis: Can I put this to you then, please, Home Secretary? I put it to Mr Rusbridger, when he came before this Committee, that he had been, and his newspaper, irresponsible in what they had done with the Snowden-leaked papers and that lives had been endangered, but is it not correct that there is some irresponsibility on the part of the security services as well, including MI5, in that all of this data that has been stolen and leaked from the NSA had been in one place, capable of being viewed by a large number of people and capable of being downloaded in one mass of material by a relatively junior person? It is not only fair to put to you, in the absence of the MI5 chief, that there has been some irresponsibility from that quarter as well?
Mrs May: I would not describe it as such, but obviously how data was stored by the NSA was a matter that was for the NSA. Obviously, they will have been looking very carefully at the arrangements that they had internally that enabled this to take place.
Michael Ellis: And hopefully reviewing those arrangements?
Mrs May: I would expect those arrangements to have been reviewed.
Q186 Michael Ellis: Mr Rusbridger also pointed out to this Committee that there were various figures who had told him and his newspaper that they had performed a public service-I believe Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post is on the record as having said The Guardian has performed a public service-and only 1% of the material that he has has been released. I suspect The Guardian would be arguing that they are being responsible with this information. Do you accept Mr Rusbridger’s contention in that regard?
Mrs May: No. I have already described, as I did at my last appearance, why I think it is the case that I share the view that was taken by the Director General of MI5 in relation to the potentially damaging effect of anything that reveals information about the techniques that are used by GCHQ. I do not consider such activity to be responsible. It is perfectly possible to have a debate about the balance between security and privacy without publishing information that comes from leaked documents.
Q187 Michael Ellis: Can I ask you about the D-notice committee, which is the very long-established committee that is for senior journalists and editors to ascertain the appropriateness or legality of reporting information? We understand from The Guardian that they did make phone calls-in all but one case before going on to publish their information-to the D-notice secretary and they do not appear to have been blocked or obstructed in pursuing their stories. I am trying to be fair here, Home Secretary. Does that not mean they have jumped through their hoops and either they have done all that they needed to do or there is something wrong with the D-notice side of things and they should have been blocked and were not?
Mrs May: What I would say to you, Mr Ellis, is this. Of course, there were discussions between representatives of the Government and The Guardian that led to the destruction of material that was held by The Guardian. This was an issue not just of publication. It was an issue about the security or otherwise of how information was being held and whether information was being communicated between various bodies. It was on the basis of concern about the material that was held and the lack of security around it that The Guardian agreed that the Government could go in and destroy the material that was held.
Q188 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, you say the security of the information they have is a matter for the NSA, but is it not also a matter for us, given the amount of information on GCHQ staff and methods that seems to have been included?
Mrs May: I would expect that there have been discussions between agencies here in the UK and the NSA in relation to the way in which material was being held.
Q189 Mark Reckless: The matter of whether Edward Snowden might receive an amnesty or similar, potentially for greater security or return of information he has, is that not also a matter for the UK? Perhaps it might not be to you as Home Secretary, but surely somewhere in the British Government we would expect to be consulted by the US authorities before a decision was taken on that.
Mrs May: There will be a difference about having a discussion about the impact of the revelation of the material, which I would expect to be part of the consideration, and the decision being taken by a body that is the body from which the information was being taken at the time. That is why I said, in response to the Chairman, this was information that was being taken when somebody was being employed under contract by the NSA, rather than by the security and intelligence agencies here, but I would expect there to be conversations and discussions about the impact that the revelations have had or the information being taken has had on the intelligence agencies here.
Q190 Mark Reckless: You were talking about parliamentary scrutiny of the intelligence agencies, but is it not security by the Executive of itself, given the members of the Committee are appointed by the Prime Minister?
Mrs May: No. As you know, we have made some slight changes to the way in which membership of the ISC will be determined in the future, but I can assure you, as somebody who also appears before the ISC on those matters that it is not possible for this Committee to question me on, that they are certainly people who challenge and take their role extremely seriously.
Mark Reckless: But if you were unhappy about the degree of challenge could you not go to the Prime Minister and suggest that perhaps MP A could be replaced with MP B?
Mrs May: As I say, the arrangement will be slightly different in future in relation to the membership of the Intelligence and Security Committee. I think it is appropriate that it is senior Members not just of the House of Commons, but also of the House of Lords, and on a cross-party basis and including Cross-Bench Members.
Q191 Mark Reckless: Should those Members not be elected? Potentially subject to vetting, but would election not be better than appointment, ultimately?
Mrs May: I think the arrangement that we have is perfectly satisfactory is relation to membership, ensuring that there are senior Members of the Parliament who are on that committee. I see Dr Huppert is shaking his head as I speak, but, as I say to you, that is a Committee that takes its work extremely seriously. It deals with matters that it is not possible to discuss in public, but it is certainly a body that is challenging to those who appear before it.
Q192 Mark Reckless: With members being appointed by the Executive and submitting their questions in advance, is there not the danger that we give the appearance of parliamentary scrutiny of the Executive in these areas without the reality?
Mrs May: We do have parliamentary scrutiny of the security and intelligence agencies through the ISC, and I think that that is appropriate and has been appropriate. We have made some changes to the body, to its powers and to its ability to take evidence in public, and I think that is the appropriate way forward.
Chair: Home Secretary, before I bring in Mr Flynn, let us be clear we are not criticising, on this Committee, either the work load or the effectiveness of our colleagues on the ISC. I am sure they do a terrific job. We do not know what they do to you in private because we never watch them question you in private. We do not know what you say to them in private. However, the concern unanimously expressed by this Committee-and certainly it has changed, I have to tell you, since my letter to Mr Parker and your response saying he could not appear-is that we cannot do our job effectively in scrutinising you and the Home Office, which is part of our remit, if we get second-hand information. I am afraid what you have given us so far today is only second-hand information.
The problem that we have is that Mr Parker and Sir John are making statements in open session and nobody knows what the follow up is. Unless we call Sir Malcolm Rifkind to give evidence, which would be rather incestuous-calling other Members of Parliament to give evidence to another Committee of Parliament to find out what goes on-there is no way we can give a balanced and fair report on counter-terrorism and on structures, unless we have this before us. We are also left in a position where Mr Rusbridger comes before us and says 10 of the biggest newspapers in the world have published this information because parliamentary scrutiny is flawed. That is the point we are trying to make.
We are not trying to say that anything our distinguished colleagues on the ISC do is not done as effectively as us. They may well do it better than us, but, as Mr Reckless and others have said, the Prime Minister appoints, Parliament approves and then the people who hear points question other people who hear points; in other words, the head of the security services and the head of GCHQ. It is just very much a village story here. Everyone is appointed by the Prime Minister, asking questions of each other and giving answer to each other. That is the issue we have.
Q193 Paul Flynn: When has the Intelligence and Security Committee provided information-evidence-that has assisted Parliament in its surveillance of the Government?
Mrs May: The Intelligence and Security Committee obviously does make publications available.
Paul Flynn: Can you give any precise examples of when they have helped Parliament in our scrutiny of Government? Are there any?
Mrs May: I would have expected that reports that they undertake-
Paul Flynn: Take the two biggest decisions taken by Parliament in the last 10 years, the decision to go to Iraq and the decision to go into Helmand Province. On both those issues the Intelligence and Security Committee were acting as cheerleaders to Government. Does this not strengthen the idea that it is a poodle Committee for the Prime Minister?
Mrs May: No, that is not strengthened simply because you disagree with views that they gave.
Paul Flynn: They were behind those two issues. If we look at what happened at the only public Committee that we have seen, where they were asked pre-prepared questions. They were given the questions in advance and possibly the replies were rehearsed. Do you think it was demeaning for the traditions of parliamentary scrutiny to have a stunt like that, which was presumably designed to embarrass The Guardian rather than to provide public scrutiny?
Mrs May: No, it was designed to provide public scrutiny. It was the first such evidence session that had been held. I would expect such evidence sessions to develop over time.
Q194 Paul Flynn: Now the principle has been accepted that the heads of security can appear in public, is it not absolutely right that they should now appear before a Committee like ourselves, who would certainly not give them advance notice of questions and not accept their non-answers as ones that can go unchallenged?
Mrs May: What I would say to you, Mr Flynn, is the following. As I have said in answer to other Members of this Committee, there is a structure within Parliament for that oversight to take place of the agencies. That is the ISC.
Paul Flynn: You have said this at least four times.
Mrs May: Yes, because that is my view and it remains my view.
Paul Flynn: We understand that view. There is no point in repeating it. It is not a view with which perhaps some of us would agree. The scrutiny that has taken place has not been adequate and has not helped Parliament. How are we, as Back-Bench parliamentarians, helped by the scrutiny that takes place on this Committee-just one or two examples?
Mrs May: The reason I am repeating the view that I have made earlier is because if I am asked a similar question in relation to the appearance of the heads of the security and intelligence agencies, particularly the Director General of MI5, then I am afraid I have one view about that, which I have given and will continue to give. The ISC publishes reports on a number of issues. Members of the ISC contribute to debates in this House. Sir Malcolm and other members of the ISC are assiduous in ensuring that they contribute to debates that take place that are relevant.
Paul Flynn: But how does Parliament-
Mrs May: We have an annual debate in relation to the work of the ISC and the operation of the ISC at which it is possible for points to be made by Members of Parliament about that and for the Chairman to be questioned and challenged. That gives opportunities for Members of Parliament.
Paul Flynn: No, it does not. All our elections are equally valid and those of us who are not on that Committee and would never possibly be on that Committee have no way of challenging the security authorities. Isn’t this unsatisfactory? If there is going to be progress and transparency, shouldn’t the heads of security come before this Committee and be scrutinised in the traditional manner of this House, not treated with poodle questions?
Chair: That is very helpful, Mr Flynn. I think the answer is probably no.
Mrs May: It is going to be the same, I am afraid.
Paul Flynn: It is going to be a repetition.
Mrs May: I hate to disappoint you, but I am not going to change suddenly and answer the fifth or sixth question.
Chair: Even the Home Affairs Select Committee can accept the fact that you have not changed your mind in the last half an hour. Ian Austin on scrutiny and then we will go on to CT.
Q195 Ian Austin: Home Secretary, when Alan Rusbridger came here and I asked him how many of the 58,000 documents had been read by The Guardian before they had been sent elsewhere he said he did not know. What was your reaction when you heard him admit that information, which included the names of security personnel, had been sent by The Guardian around the world? What did you think about that?
Mrs May: I was very concerned about that. Earlier, I used the word "appalled". I know the Chairman picked me up on the use of that word, but I am concerned when I hear that information, which potentially has the names of individuals who are people who, by definition, are putting themselves into positions of potential danger on behalf of this country, should be revealed.
Q196 Ian Austin: What assessment have you made of the extent to which this has placed British security personnel at risk?
Mrs May: I remain of the view, as I indicated in my last evidence session, that the leakage of this information and the revelation of this information through publication is damaging to national security. I am particularly concerned when it does potentially relate to individuals and there is information that potentially relates to particular individuals who are employed by this country to work on behalf of this country to maintain our national security. They are putting themselves potentially in danger and it seems to me there is a duty of care that is owed to them.
Q197 Ian Austin: It seems to me the point you have made this afternoon is that you think there is a difference between reporting on the fact that surveillance is taking place or reporting the extent of surveillance and reporting the detail of it. The Guardian does not need to print the detail or transmit the detail to other people in order for it to reveal, if it wants to, that that surveillance is taking place.
Mrs May: I think it is perfectly possible to have a debate on the arguments, on which people take different views, about where the balance lies between privacy and security without revealing details that potentially are damaging to that national security.
Q198 Ian Austin: There are many people who thought it extraordinary that somebody could be appointed to be a Minister in the Home Office with some responsibility for oversight of the security and intelligence services who believes that it is possible in this country for the police, the civil service, the Government of the day and the security services to mount a huge conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by claiming that someone who killed themselves was in fact murdered. Do you share that view?
Mrs May: I have to say-
Ian Austin: Not the view that it is possible to do all that, but the view that it is extraordinary that someone who does think that could be made a Minister in your Department. How did you greet his appointment?
Mrs May: I have to say that I am working very well with him and I think those who have seen Norman Baker operating as the Minister for Crime Prevention will have seen that he is being very effective in the work that he is doing. People will have seen him deal with PQs. He has been in front of this Committee.
Ian Austin: But is it appropriate to appoint a fantasist to the Home Office?
Mrs May: Norman Baker is an assiduous, hard-working Minister who is doing a good job in the Home Office and I am happy to work alongside him.
Mr Winnick: Sometimes, Chair, he gives good answers.
Chair: Presumably you have sent him a Christmas card.
Mrs May: Indeed. I believe I have sent you a Christmas card, Chairman.
Q199 Chair: I have not received it. You should have brought it here, or maybe Mr Parker has it. Let us move on. Unfortunately, you come to Christmas, Home Secretary, having lost two of your TPIMs. Ibrahim Magag is still missing after a year. You raised restrictions on Boxing Day last year. No one can find him. Earlier this year, Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed donned a burka and left a mosque in Ealing and we do not know where he is. Who do we blame for this? Obviously you are not to blame. We do not expect you to be following TPIMs people around all over the country because you have a lot of other important work to do, but somebody must be responsible for this. Who is responsible for the fact that under TPIMs we still have two people missing?
Mrs May: Indeed, under control orders we have a number of people who absconded and were not found.
Chair: Yes, indeed. I accept that.
Mrs May: The answer is, Chairman, that it is not possible, unless somebody is behind bars in jail, to ensure that somebody is not going to abscond. The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, has made the point that the only way to be absolutely certain is to have somebody behind bars.
Q200 Chair: We were very interested in the evidence given by Charles Farr, one of your director generals, about foreign fighters and our concern that Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed was an example of someone who went abroad to fight and to get into a lot of trouble in what he was doing in Somaliland. For some unknown reason, which Mr Farr said was an obligation, he was then brought back to the United Kingdom, even though this Committee has received evidence from Birnberg Peirce, acting for him, in which it is very clear that he wanted to go to Somalia-not Somaliland, but Somalia-where his family was.
We could not quite understand, or at least I could not understand, why we went to so much trouble to bring back people into this country who did not want to come here and who we then had to make subjects of TPIMs and spend a vast amount of money on them. We obviously can’t talk about the Adebolajo trial because it is going on, but one of the features when it is over will be our interest in why he was brought back so helpfully from Kenya to the United Kingdom. When jihadists decide they want to leave Britain to go and fight in Syria and other countries, why do we then bring them back again?
Mrs May: You have asked a wide-ranging question, Chairman. You started off on one individual, but-
Chair: Break it down. Answer it in bits, if you like.
Mrs May: The answer is that, on a case-by-case basis, there may be circumstances in which it is because the individual is a mono-British national. It is not possible for those who are deporting that individual to deport them elsewhere other than to the country of their nationality. As I understand it, in the first case that you quoted the individual is a British national-
Chair: Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed.
Mrs May: And therefore that was the case. As Charles Farr indicated in his letter when he gave written evidence to you, section 1.1 of the Immigration Act 1971 exempts from immigration control persons who have the right of abode. There is no legal basis for preventing British citizens like Mohamed from returning to the UK and it is not necessary for a foreign Government to request that we take them back when someone is a British citizen. There is a particular circumstance where an individual will come back to the UK.
Q201 Chair: Yes, but this seems to be happening an awful lot. We all admire the work you did on Abu Qatada. In fact, you were lavished with praise when he went back-from this Committee and, indeed, the House. Jordan sought every means to have him not sent back and everyone tried to keep him in this country rather than go back to Jordan. In Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed’s case, we asked Charles Farr specifically for one piece of evidence that he has not given us. Could we have the request from Somaliland that he be returned to the United Kingdom? Charles Farr talked about obligations as if we should rush out there, hand them their travelling documents and British passports and welcome them back at Heathrow airport. In Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed’s case, to use it as an example, he did not want to come back here. He wanted to stay in Somalia. Could you send us that request that the Somalian Government made that he should come back here? Mr Farr promised it to us, but it has not arrived.
Mrs May: I will look again at exactly what it was that Charles Farr indicated he would give to the Committee. I do not think it is normal for Government-to-Government relations to be matters that are revealed in public or to Committees of this House.
Q202 Chair: This is a public discussion. We all know about Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed. You have been on television. You have been to the House. Everyone knows all his history. There is nothing private about Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed now. You are looking for him, so we have to find him. This is the issue for our inquiry. When so-called freedom fighters go to other countries in order to take part in jihad and if they are not successful they are incarcerated in those countries, be it Kenya, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia or Somaliland, are we under an obligation to bring them back here just because they are British citizens or should we wait for a request or should we wait for them to be deported? You are not telling us that Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed was deported, are you?
Mrs May: I think it might have been a slip of the tongue from you, if I may respectfully suggest, Chairman. You talked about freedom fighters. The term we use is foreign fighters.
Chair: Sorry, foreign fighters. Well, it is their freedom they are fighting. They seek freedom in Syria. We do not necessarily agree with them.
Mrs May: There are people who will choose to go and fight in Syria from the UK and not just from the UK, from other countries in Europe and around the rest of the world, and who will then choose to return to their country origin where they have nationality. Obviously, there are a number of options that can be taken in certain circumstances in relation to the deprivation of citizenship. There is a particular legal structure for that at the moment. In some cases, there are actions that can be taken, but that is not in every case. I am very happy to write to you, Chairman, with an explanation of the generic situation, about those circumstances in which there is an obligation on the UK to take back somebody who is a UK citizen, and those circumstances in which it is possible to deprive citizenship and so forth.
Chair: We know what the law is, but we want to know why we facilitate their return. Jonathan Evans in a speech that he made in 2010 said, "It is only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside Al-Shabaab." Are we trying to put obstacles in their way or are we just saying, "We are the British Government and, if they are British citizens, you are welcome to come back to the UK."? What is your thinking as Home Secretary on this?
Mrs May: My thinking as Home Secretary, Chairman, is that I look at decisions on the basis of what I believe is right in the interests of national security, but I have to do that against the background of the legal framework against which I am able to operate. What I am indicating to you, and I am very happy to put this into greater detail, is that there are circumstances where it is not possible for the Government of the United Kingdom to deprive somebody of their citizenship and therefore ensure that they are not able to return back to the UK.
Chair: So we will not put obstacles in their way? We will just accept them back?
Mrs May: No. Chairman, perhaps I can just repeat what I have said. On a case-by-case basis, I look for what is right for national security, but I have to operate against the legal framework in which it is possible for me to operate. Therefore, on a case-by-case basis, if these cases are brought to me, I will look at whether it is right to take action against an individual or whether action cannot be taken such that they return to the UK.
Q203 Chair: I understand that. Thank you for explaining it so clearly, but I asked about Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed as an example. This Committee would like to see the letter from the Government of Somaliland asking for him to be returned to the United Kingdom because there is no evidence to support that, other than an explanation of how the Nationality Act operates, which we had from Mr Farr. We want to know, because this is of interest to us in our inquiry on counter-terrorism, did they ask for him to come back? We will treat that letter in confidence, but we want to see the request. It is not a private issue now. The evidence of Charles Farr is being disputed by the solicitors acting for Mr Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, so for us to have a proper view on this we need to know the facts. That is all we ask and if you could send that to us we would be extremely grateful.
Mrs May: Chairman, Charles Farr did write to you following his evidence session with further information in relation to this issue and I repeat the comment that I have made earlier. It is not normally the case that Government reveals Government-to-Government relations.
Chair: No, I understand that. Some of us have been around for a long time and been Foreign Office Ministers. Of course you do not release every piece of information that every foreign leader says to you, but we have asked for a piece of evidence to justify what Mr Farr said to this Committee and we would like you to go away and see if there is that evidence or write to us and say, "There is no evidence." Then we will close the matter, but we cannot have it just hanging in the air when the solicitors acting for Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed say that he was brought back against his will-and this is evidence given by Charles Farr that he came voluntarily-and this was because the Somalia Government wanted him to be returned. We need to be clear, otherwise Mr Farr will be found to have misled this Committee and that is not what we want to find. We want the facts. Please, would you go away and have a look at that?
Mrs May: Mr Farr has already written following his evidence, but I will-
Chair: Not with the information we asked, Mrs May.
Mrs May: What I am saying, Chairman, is it may not be possible to give you the specific information that you ask-
Chair: He did not tell us that.
Mrs May: But I will go away and I will look at the information that you have received and see what it is possible to give you.
Chair: Thank you very much. I am very grateful.
Q204 Mr Winnick: What the Chair has said I am sure is supported by all the Committee-how this individual came back, if it was so, against his will. Is there not a danger, Home Secretary, on the wider issue that those who go abroad to fight jihad or what have you may go without the slightest intention of doing any harm in Britain, but could be indoctrinated abroad, and when they do return-and I recognise what you say about the legal obligations to UK citizens; we all recognise this, there is no doubt about that-they could cause mayhem arising from that form of indoctrination?
Mrs May: It is a matter of concern to me, and it is a matter of concern here in the UK and in other countries of the world that, precisely as you say, Mr Winnick, there are those individuals who will go to fight abroad. Particularly at the moment, Syria is proving somewhere that people are going to. They may be people who go not with any intention of fighting, but who may go with humanitarian aims, but then find themselves caught up in fighting. They may not go with an intention of fighting with groups that are related to al-Qaeda, but find themselves in the fighting alongside people who obviously have a link to al-Qaeda, and they may be individuals who will be radicalised while they are there and then return to the UK. This is a matter of concern to us. It is also a matter of concern to other countries in Europe and elsewhere around the world where exactly the same thing is happening-that individuals are going to Syria to fight and then returning.
Mr Winnick: The British authorities are aware of the danger?
Mrs May: Yes. We are aware of this issue. This is a matter that we are concerned about. As I say, it is a matter that is not just of concern to us. For example, the last time I was in Brussels I had a meeting with a number of other member states about this issue, and indeed the Justice and Home Affairs Council did discuss this issue because of the overall concerns that we have.
Q205 Paul Flynn: Could you tell us what your feelings are about what is likely to happen next year? Do you expect an increase in terrorist threats from the Afghan Taliban?
Mrs May: I do not normally take the position of trying to predict where threats are going to come from or to indicate the level of the threats that would take place. Obviously, the troops have been in Afghanistan with a purpose. Over time, we have seen people who have been travelling to a number of parts of the world-we have just been discussing a particular part of the world, Syria-in relation to those who are fighting and who are therefore potentially returning to the UK having been trained and been involved in battles. Obviously, we look very carefully at the situation that will pertain in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the troops.
Paul Flynn: It is a simple question. We have been repeatedly told since 2001 that the main reason why our troops are risking their lives-losing their lives, many of them-in Afghanistan is to protect the United Kingdom from Taliban terrorist threats here. When our troops return, is it not prudent to prepare for Taliban terrorist threats, presuming that advice was right and the reason they were there was correct?
Mrs May: The reason they were there is correct, but what we have also been doing, of course, while we have been in Afghanistan is working on the security arrangements with the army and also with the police in Afghanistan to get to a position where it is possible for the security forces in Afghanistan to be able to provide security within the country.
Q206 Paul Flynn: What are we doing working with other countries where other possible threats might come, such as Pakistan, the Yemen and Somalia, to enable us to better tackle future threats?
Mrs May: Obviously, how we are able to work with other countries varies from country to country. Pakistan is a country that has suffered more from terrorism than any other country in the world. They have had several thousand people who have died as a result of terrorist attacks within Pakistan. I myself have now made three visits to Pakistan to discuss with them a number of matters of mutual interest. Some of that is about counter-terrorism, but also about other interests such as counter-narcotics.
As I say, in individual countries we work in different ways. In Pakistan, one of the projects that we have been involved in, with others, is trying to enhance their ability to prosecute terrorists within Pakistan. Work is being undertaken with prosecutors and others to look at issues around evidence gathering and how prosecutions can take place, for example. The support we provide will vary according to the circumstances of the country.
Q207 Paul Flynn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a justice and human rights partnership programme. How important is this in reducing the threat to the United Kingdom?
Mrs May: I think this is a very important development from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and it is important because there are some countries where, because of their human rights record, it is difficult for us sometimes to work with them. The work that the FCO has initiated in these partnerships, which will vary from case to case and country to country, is about encouraging and building greater understanding on human rights issues such that it is possible for us to work with them in a variety of ways.
Q208 Paul Flynn: Is it steady as she goes or is there a case for saying we should increase the investment overseas in the capacity for dealing with terrorists?
Mrs May: I always hesitate, Mr Flynn, when somebody talks to me about increasing investment. Obviously, in a world of finite resources, we have to look at how we spread those resources very carefully, but this is a development that the FCO has taken on board. I think it is an important development and, as I say, we in the Home Office are also involved in a number of programmes such as the one I have indicated in Pakistan, which is about capacity building in those countries.
Q209 Paul Flynn: When you are allocating resources, how do you decide where they should go when we know that the chance of being killed by a terrorist in Britain is very small and the chance of being killed in, say, a road traffic accident is 300 times greater?
Mrs May: Obviously, I have a particular budget and the Foreign Office has a budget in these areas and we sometimes look at these issues together. Obviously, sometimes I am looking just at the budget that I have in the Home Office, but not just my budget because we work to bring in funding from elsewhere-for example, the European Union in relation to some of the projects that we are involved in in building capacity in other countries where it is in the interests not just of the UK, but of other countries. We must make judgments on the effectiveness of what we are doing based against the threat that we see.
Q210 Chair: Thank you. You may not have known this. The Prime Minister has just said that Afghanistan is now mission accomplished as far as the basic level of security in that country is concerned. Does this mean that it is going to be less of a priority as far as security or, in answer to what Mr Flynn has said, does it remain very much on the radar?
Mrs May: It will be one of the countries around the world that we continue to look at. Obviously, the situation has changed and the Prime Minister is absolutely right to say, as I indicated in my answer to Mr Flynn, that part of the work that has been undertaken by our troops out there in Afghanistan has been developing the capacity of the Afghanistan forces themselves to provide that security and stability within Afghanistan and the work that has been done with, for example, the Afghan National Army, but we have police officers out there working as a European project to help to develop the capacity of the Afghan police as well.
Q211 Ian Austin: Under the control order regime, seven people absconded. The regime was strengthened and the relocation power was introduced and then none absconded. You then got rid of the relocation orders and since then two have absconded. Do you think that getting rid of the powers for relocation has weakened the regime and made it easier for people to abscond?
Mrs May: I think that we have the regime that is right. I have been clear that what is available within the regime should be used to its fullest possible extent. It is the case that control orders were increasingly being affected by decisions in the courts. There are a number of relocation decisions under control orders that were quashed by the courts, for example, but I would return to-
Q212 Ian Austin: Just to be accurate on this point, in January 2011 when you changed the regime, you did not mention the stuff about the courts at all. What you said was that the previous regime was excessive and unnecessary. You said that the new regime would "restore our civil liberties". We should set aside all this nonsense about the courts because that was not what you said at the time. Many of us feel that the decision you took placed a greater importance on the civil liberties of the terrorist suspects than it did on the safety of the public.
Mrs May: No. I am sorry, Mr Austin, but at the time we did discuss the impact that the courts were having on the regime of control orders. At the time, it was particularly noticeable in relation to the number of hours that had previously been referred to as a curfew. There had been a number of cases where the courts had reduced the number of hours for which somebody was required to be at their home. It was against that background that we set the requirements that we did within the TPIM regime. At the time, that was an issue that was looked at, but I would return to-
Ian Austin: But at the time you made it all about civil liberties, to be fair.
Mrs May: Sorry?
Ian Austin: At the time, when you announced these changes, the main point you were making was about restoring civil liberties and the criticism of the previous regime as having been excessive and unnecessary.
Mrs May: One of the first things we did when we come into government was to look across counter-terrorism legislation, to look at a number of issues where we thought that it was necessary to make changes. One of those issues, for example, was the period of pre-charge detention, which we reduced. The previous Government had initially talked about 90 days, but it then went to 28 days. We have reduced to 14. We did look across the board at counter-terrorism legislation.
If I may make the point that I made earlier to the Chairman in relation to this question of people who abscond from TPIMs, and indeed absconded from control orders, as David Anderson said, the only sure way to prevent absconding is to lock people up in a high-security prison. Wherever anybody is on one of these measures, or indeed on one of the control orders, it is possible for somebody to abscond.
Ian Austin: Yes, but it is obvious, is it not, that if they are allowed to be in London, associating in London where the people that they previously associated with and got up to all this stuff with are also living, it is bound to be more likely that they are able to arrange to escape, as has been proved by the fact that two of them did just that?
Mrs May: As I say, the only way that you can ensure that somebody does not, in your terms, escape or abscond is to have them locked up in a high-security prison.
Q213 Ian Austin: I am not against locking them up in a high-security prison, but, as a matter of factual accuracy, when they were sent to different parts of the country, when they were not able to visit the places they had been visiting before and associate with people they had associated with before, none of them absconded.
The other big difference between the previous regime and this one is that you have brought in this sunset clause that means that at the end of January or early next year all of these controls will disappear completely. Given that one of them has escaped pretty recently, which shows that whatever work has been done while they have been on the TPIM to deradicalise them has failed, surely it is sensible now to look at this again and maintain controls after the beginning of next year, when they are going to be lifted.
Mrs May: The decision was taken that the TPIMs would have the possibility of one extension after one year so that the full time was two years, but it is nothing new for somebody to come off this sort of order. In relation to the control orders, 43 individuals came off control orders because they were revoked by the previous Government, they were quashed by the courts or because they absconded and were never seen again.
Q214 Ian Austin: Yes, but there is a difference, is there not, in deciding that, because of this individual’s circumstances and the work that has been done to deradicalise him or whatever assurance has been given or sought or whatever, he can come off a control order? That is one thing, but just to say en masse, "All of these people will not be subject to any controls after a particular date," is something very different.
Mrs May: The decision was taken to put that into the legislation. It was fully debated and discussed in Parliament. The point I would make, as I was making about the control orders, was that-
Ian Austin: I know that, but-
Mrs May: You indicated earlier that there were no problems with the courts, or hinted earlier that there might not have been problems with the courts. Indeed there were, because three of the control orders were quashed because the court said they were wrong in principle. In two cases the court directed the last Government to revoke the orders because they felt they were no longer necessary. There was the court taking a decision that it was no longer necessary for an order to be in place in relation to an individual.
Ian Austin: To be fair, I was not exonerating the courts.
Chair: Could this be your last question, Mr Austin?
Q215 Ian Austin: Yes. I was simply saying that the court was not the excuse you had used when you chose to weaken and water down these controls in 2011. The question I am trying to ask you is, when you say, "This decision was taken and this was agreed by Parliament," what I want to know is-the fact that some of them have absconded, the controls have clearly not worked and they have obviously not been deradicalised-has any of that made you think again as to whether this sunset clause is still appropriate?
Mrs May: You have made a number of assumptions there in relation to the individuals concerned who are currently under the TPIMs. This is a matter that we looked at, at the time. We felt that this was the right way to go. We indicated that, of course, it is possible within the legislation, if somebody is involved in further activity, for a fresh TPIM to be applied, but that it was right that there was only the possibility of extending it for one further year.
Q216 Ian Austin: Can I just ask one final factual question? Two of the people who are on control orders have been remanded in custody during this period. Does the sunset clause still apply to them as it does to the others or will it be maintained in respect of them because they have breached the TPIM during this period? I have not expressed that well, but I think you know what I mean.
Mrs May: I think I understand. If I may, there are two parts to the question. If somebody is convicted of an offence such that they are serving a custodial sentence, then it is possible to temporarily, but not exactly, revoke the TPIM and then put it back on when they come out so that that period when they are in custody does not apply in relation to the period of time that is calculated for the TPIM. Obviously, the possibility of putting a fresh TPIM on somebody relates to definition in the legislation of terrorist activity.
Ian Austin: In relation to these two, will it be extended?
Mrs May: The issue for somebody who has been convicted of something is what they were convicted of and whether that comes under the definition of terrorism as allowed for in the legislation for a further extension.
Dr Huppert: On the CT bit, unlike my colleague Mr Austin, I think people who have not been convicted of a crime probably should not be put in high-security prisons, or indeed relocated around the country, so I agree with you on that. It is different once they have been convicted. Although related to counter-terrorism somewhat peripherally-
Chair: If it is I will not let you-
Dr Huppert: Then I will come in later if you prefer.
Chair: Right, okay. Let us move on now to our last topic, which is-
Mark Reckless: Can I just ask one very quick question on TPIM?
Chair: Yes, because you asked so nicely, Mr Reckless.
Q217 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, you gave a number of categories of people and why they were coming out of TPIMs. Before the control order regime came in, the previous regime, I think there were 13 people who were locked up, all of whom were foreign nationals. I just wonder now what proportion of TPIM people are foreign nationals and whether some of them may have come off TPIMs because they have gone back to their country of origin.
Mrs May: Since the TPIMs were introduced, 10 notices have been issued, nine of whom were British nationals.
Q218 Chair: You made it very clear, Home Secretary, that you were against documents being leaked, in reference to The Guardian. Have you found out who leaked the document on EU migration to The Sunday Times?
Mrs May: No. I am aware that obviously there are reports that have appeared in the paper, Chairman. As you know, it is a long-standing practice not to comment on leaked documents.
Q219 Chair: We understand that, but obviously Mr Clegg, who is new to Government-he has only been there three and a half years-did not know this because he has issued a damning criticism of your Department and, therefore, by implication, you. He said this just now, "My advice to the Home Office is to spend less time leaking policies that are illegal and undeliverable and spend more time delivering on the policies that we have agreed as a Coalition Government, notably the reinstatement of exit checks. If we pulled up the drawbridge now and said to German lawyers or Finnish engineers or Dutch accountants that they can’t come to work, it would be a disaster for our economy." You are the head of your Department. This is the Deputy Prime Minister criticising your Department, saying that what is being proposed, which is a cap on migrants coming from the EU, is illegal.
Mrs May: I am aware of what has appeared in the press. As I say, I do not comment on leaked documents, but I will comment on the issue of free movement and what has been said by both the Prime Minister and me in relation to this issue of free movement, which is about saying that we have the opportunity-
Chair: No, can I stop you there?
Mrs May: It comes directly to the issue of the legality or otherwise of-
Chair: No. This is a Select Committee. The Deputy Prime Minister has launched a damning indictment against your Department and you are the Home Secretary. You are sitting before the Home Affairs Select Committee. I do not want to know what the Prime Minister says. I know what the Prime Minister says and we will come to that in a second. What do you say about what Mr Clegg has said? Is he wrong or right?
Mrs May: I was attempting to answer that very question, Chairman.
Chair: You have not mentioned his name. That is what concerned me.
Mrs May: Because I am going to address the issue rather than an individual. What I have said separately in relation to this matter-and, as it happens, it does reflect what the Prime Minister has said as well-
Chair: We are not discussing the Prime Minister.
Mrs May: I understand you want to talk about what I am saying rather than the Prime Minister. I think we should take the opportunity that is ahead of us to reform the European Union and look at free movement. There are concerns across Europe from a number of other countries about free movement and particularly about the abuse of free movement. It is right for us to say that we should look at the accession treaties for new countries coming into Europe, and within that we could look at the question of whether we should have greater flexibility rather than just a period of time for transitional controls. Maybe controls should be in place until the national income of a country has reached a certain percentage of the main country’s national income, or indeed, if migration reaches a certain level, whether there is a possibility in those circumstances to introduce a cap.
Chair: That is extremely helpful.
Mrs May: That is what I have said.
Q220 Chair: That is helpful. It does not address my point that I put to you about Mr Clegg. Obviously, nobody has told Mr Clegg that you are not planning to do this tomorrow, but this is what you are planning to do, as one would expect as the Prime Minister sets out around Europe, after the next election, should he win the election, because the pledge is to have a referendum in 2017. Of course you want to look at the treaties and the issue of freedom of movement, but Mr Clegg is concerned that you are doing this now. Do you accept that now, as opposed to what might happen in two years’ time, a cap on EU migration would be unlawful under the treaties?
Mrs May: I am not proposing to introduce such a cap now. What I am talking about is the possibility of reform in the future.
Chair: I accept that. It is not for now and you accept that a cap now would be unlawful under the treaties?
Mrs May: What we have is the situation that exists under the treaties. For example, the accession treaties of Romania and Bulgaria were clear on the transitional control period. That is in place. We are doing a number of other things around that.
Chair: But it is not a cap.
Mrs May: That is not a cap. We are doing a number of other things around that.
Chair: You seem reluctant to say the words, "The cap is unlawful now." It is unlawful now.
Mrs May: What I am saying is everybody understands what the situation at the moment is.
Chair: Except Mr Clegg.
Mrs May: No. As I understand it, he has made a statement on the basis of, "If we were going to do this now this is what the situation would be." What I am saying is I am not proposing to do it now. We are talking about potential reforms of accession treaties for the future.
Chair: With the greatest respect, and I have great admiration for you, Home Secretary, that is not what the Deputy Prime Minister has said just now. He said, "My advice to the Home Office is to spend less time leaking policies that are illegal and undeliverable." He is talking about now, not in two years’ time. He might not be the Deputy Prime Minister in two years’ time. We never know who might be Prime Minister.
Mrs May: That statement has an assumption within it, but just to pick up, obviously, the point about exit checks, of course the Home Office is working on exit checks. We have a Coalition Government agreement on the reintroduction of exit checks.
Q221 Chair: Let us then take what Mr Clegg says and take the most important issue that is going to face you in the next 15 days, which is the arrival of Romanians and Bulgarians, because the transitional arrangements come to an end. Are you expecting a surge of people coming in after 1 January? Are you going to be looking at the schedules for Luton airport to see how many people have arrived from Bucharest or are you satisfied that it is going to be pretty smooth?
Mrs May: Chairman, I am afraid I will repeat what I have said to this Committee previously and, indeed, said in other public arenas. We have not made a prediction about the numbers of people who may come from Romania and Bulgaria into the United Kingdom or, indeed, into other member states who also removed the transitional controls, states like Germany and France. That decision not to make a prediction, of course, has been referred to by independent advisers such as the Migration Advisory Committee who indicated that it was very difficult to make those sorts of predictions given the number of variables in the issue.
Q222 Chair: Home Secretary, that is not quite correct. If you read the evidence of the chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee to this Committee exactly a week ago, when Sir David was sitting in the seat you are sitting in, he was very happy to do a document-a research study-into how many people were coming here, but he was never given, in his words, the homework from yourself. The Migration Advisory Committee did not say, "We will not do this piece of work and it is not right to do this piece of work." You never asked him.
Mrs May: The Migration Advisory Committee and, indeed, others made it clear that they did not think that predictions of this sort were appropriate. I will look and see if I can find the-
Q223 Chair: Not to this Committee he didn’t. Unless he has had a change of heart, what he said to us exactly a week ago is he was never asked to and, had he been asked to do it, he would certainly have done it. Had we known he had not been asked, we would have written and asked him. Are there special arrangements being put in action for 1 January for the arrival of Romanians and Bulgarians? We understand that one police officer has gone to a village called Apata in the Carpathian mountains to tell the people of Apata not to come to Britain unless they have a job. Apart from this police commander, are there any other arrangements being made for 1 January?
Mrs May: We have changed some regulations in the Home Office that will come into play on 1 January in two particular areas. One is the limitation to six months of people being able to claim benefits in relation to being unemployed and, unless they can show that they have a genuine prospect of getting work, that change in the regulation enables the DWP now to tighten up on their definition of a genuine prospect of employment.
Chair: Yes, and I am sure we will have questions on that, but in terms of practical arrangements, any practical arrangements for 1 January?
Mrs May: Well, we have also changed the regulations to ensure that we are better able to prevent people who have been removed from the UK because they are not exercising their treaty rights-for example, people who may have been begging or rough sleeping-from just using a revolving door and coming straight back by changing the regulations such that they will not be able to return for 12 months.
Chair: But any practical arrangements?
Mrs May: It will be very much business as usual.
Q224 Chair: That is not what Mr Sedwill told us. Mr Sedwill, who was sitting in your chair two weeks ago, said that Olympic-style procedures were being put in place just in case there was a rush of people in January. He obviously has not told you this.
Mrs May: Chairman, I can assure you that it will be business as usual.
Chair: There are no Olympic-style procedures being put in place to deal with the rush of people in January. It is only Captain Mainwaring who is going to be standing there. No special arrangements, business as usual?
Mrs May: I can assure you that it will be business as usual. As I say, we have not made predictions as to the number of people who will be coming through the borders. It is the case that a number of other member states will be removing the transitional controls at the same time. It is not the same as when the A8 were able to have full free movement when, of course, we were the only major European country not to have transitional controls.
Chair: Why does the Permanent Secretary think that Olympic-style procedures have been put into place in case there is a rush of people in January and you do not think this is happening?
Mrs May: I have obviously discussed arrangements with the Permanent Secretary and he is clear, as I am, that it is business as usual.
Q225 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, are we going to hit our immigration target?
Mrs May: It still remains our aim to hit that target. Just as I do not make a habit of predicting whether we are going to do these things, I continue to work towards that target.
Q226 Mark Reckless: The Deputy Prime Minister has concerns that imposing numerical restrictions or restrictions on particular countries, for instance Bulgaria and Romania, would be illegal. Could we perhaps deal with that by supporting Nigel Mills’ amendment to extend the transitional controls?
Mrs May: You will be aware as well as I am, Mr Reckless, of the legal situation in relation to the accession treaty that was negotiated by the last Government, which indicates that transitional controls should come off on 1 January.
In relation to the action that we can take on matters around immigration, I am pleased to say that obviously we have seen immigration coming down. We have seen net migration from outside the EU at its lowest level since 1998. Last year, 100,000 fewer people immigrated to the UK than did in 2010. On the measures where we have made changes across our immigration arrangements, we have seen that having an impact. Of course, I continue to look at these issues and, in relation to people from within the EU and elsewhere, obviously have been looking to make changes to reduce the pull factors for the UK and some of those changes are going through in the Immigration Bill.
Q227 Mark Reckless: Would it not be sensible to allow Parliament an opportunity to vote on Nigel Mills’ amendments to extend the transitional controls before they are lifted rather than after?
Mrs May: Sorry, before?
Mark Reckless: Would it not make sense to allow Parliament to vote on Nigel Mills’ amendment to extend transitional controls before they are lifted rather than after?
Mrs May: Regardless of when the vote is held in relation to any amendment of that sort, the Act does not come into place until it gets Royal Assent. On the current timetable, it will be getting Royal Assent before the end of this Session. It is not a question of whether a vote is taken before the controls are lifted. Any Act does not come into place until then.
Q228 Mark Reckless: Would it not be helpful for people considering perhaps leaving Romania and Bulgaria to come and work in the UK to know the intentions of Parliament in this matter prior to 1 January so they do not perhaps waste time and money coming if they are then only going to be sent back were the law to be amended in this way?
Mrs May: I am interested that you are of the opinion that people in Romania and Bulgaria are waiting for the views of Parliament on this particular issue before they make any decisions. As I have said, the Immigration Act-the Immigration Bill as it is now-will only come into force later next year. It is not something that comes into force on 1 January. It still has to go through the House of Lords.
What we are properly doing as a Government is taking the action that we can. I have indicated the two areas where the Home Office has already changed the regulation. The DWP is working on the issue of the habitual residency test. There are other changes the DWP will be making in relation to the length of time people have to be here before they are able to claim benefits and the test for somebody being able to say that they are working in the UK or have a prospect of work in the UK to make sure that is genuine employment. There are a number of changes that the Government is making that I think are entirely right and proper and within our scope and capacity at the moment.
Q229 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, we went to Romania. We saw considerable interest in the UK debate on this and a particular anger against The Guardian, who were seen to have stirred up anti-immigration sentiment on this issue. Their piece may have been tongue in cheek, but I think that was lost in translation in Romania. Given the comments of the Deputy Prime Minister, has he done anything to help you in your efforts to get immigration down to that target?
Mrs May: The efforts to get immigration down to the sort of numbers that we are aiming to achieve are ongoing. We have made significant changes as a Government across various aspects of our immigration policy and all the routes of entry into the UK. As you know, we have put the cap on the annual limit on non-EU economic migrants. We have significantly changed the student visa route, so we have been rooting out abuse. We have changed family visas and we are seeing an impact in all of the areas that we have undertaken work.
Q230 Mark Reckless: What about the Deputy Prime Minister’s idea to have a bond-make people from certain countries pay a large sum of money that might be refunded? Did you feel that was a useful contribution from Nick Clegg?
Mrs May: In fact, both parties in the coalition had looked at the issue of a bond. I was clear that any bond that was introduced would be for those circumstances where there was a concern that somebody appeared to meet the requirements to come into the UK, but there was an uncertainty from the entry clearance officer as to whether they would meet the requirements. There were others who felt that it was something that would be more permissive in terms of encouraging more people to come into the UK. The Government has made clear that at this stage we will not be progressing with a bond.
Q231 Mark Reckless: Could I ask what follow through there will be on this limit of 70,000 net migration from the EU that appears to have been proposed?
Mrs May: You are talking about something that has appeared in the press and, as I say, I will not comment on something that has appeared in the press of that sort. What-
Mark Reckless: Do you regret the leaking of this document?
Mrs May: There are a lot of assumptions being made about the leaking of this document, which I have to say I would challenge.
Mark Reckless: Do you regret it?
Mrs May: I regret any leaked document. As I indicated earlier, the issues about the question of potential reform of new countries that come in and the accession treaties and the rules on full freedom of movement and rights of movement across the EU are something that I think it entirely right and proper are taken in terms of the debate about the reform of the EU. I have raised a number of ideas about how that could go. The Prime Minister has raised a number of ideas about how that debate could go. I think it is right that we have that discussion and debate about it.
Q232 Mark Reckless: There have been comparisons with Switzerland and the process they have for safeguarding around a numerical target, whether it is 70,000 or otherwise. If you were not able to achieve through the renegotiation measures such as those that are referred to in this document, would you then support the UK leaving the EU in order to regain control of our borders?
Mrs May: As you will be aware, Mr Reckless, the commitment that has been made is a commitment that has been made by one party within the coalition-by the Conservative party-that we would look to that reform of the European Union and then look to put that to a vote of the British people. It would then be a decision of the British people in a referendum as to whether the UK remained within the European Union.
Q233 Mark Reckless: If we did not achieve these reforms to free movement, which side of that referendum would you be on?
Mrs May: These are not the only reforms that would be being sought in relation to the future of the European Union. I would make a decision at the time, in relation to the package, as to the vote that was going forward. In the past, I have said that I would hope that we would be able to put to the British people a package that has resolved their concerns and issues in relation to membership of the European Union. I think the dynamics in Europe are such that attitudes in a number of countries are changing at the moment.
Chair: Thank you, Home Secretary and colleagues. We need to speed up the questions.
Dr Huppert: Thank you very much, Chair.
Chair: Do not take that as a personal criticism, Dr Huppert.
Q234 Dr Huppert: I am glad that you have such a clear position. You will not comment on leaks except those in The Guardian, as we heard earlier. Presumably you could just reassure us that you and your team were not involved in any way with this leak.
Mrs May: As I indicated to the Chairman earlier, I am not in the position of knowing where the leak has come from. I am just musing. I think perhaps I will leave your first comment in relation to The Guardian. I could challenge you on that, Dr Huppert, but I think I will not.
Dr Huppert: We had a very interesting session. It is possible that it was somebody from your team who leaked it? You cannot rule that out?
Mrs May: No, I would certainly not have expected it to be somebody from my team that had leaked any document.
Q235 Dr Huppert: Can I move on to something that has not been leaked; it has been published, quite clearly? Have you seen the work from UCL looking at the fiscal effects of immigration to the UK, which found that over 10 years EEA immigrants contributed to the fiscal system about £22.1 billion towards our economy and another £2.9 billion from non-EEA countries? Have you seen that study?
Mrs May: I am aware that there are a number of studies. I am not aware of the details of the particular study you refer to. I know there have been a number of studies that have looked at the impact of migration on the UK economy. When I came into this job, it was the view of the previous Government and it was the orthodoxy that, by definition, all immigration was good for the economy and had no negative impacts at all. I did not believe that, which is why I did ask the Migration Advisory Committee to look at that issue.
The Migration Advisory Committee looked specifically, first of all, at the question of job displacement. We know that the "lump of labour" argument is a fallacy-there is not just a finite number of jobs to go round-but I did not believe that immigration had no impact on people living here in the UK getting jobs. The Migration Advisory Committee were clear: for the period 1995 to 2010 it found that for every 100 non-EEA migrants coming into the UK, 23 British people living here would be displaced from getting jobs. There is an impact and many people feel it, and the people who feel the impact of immigration most are generally those at the lower end of the income scale. Jon Cruddas has said that the policy of immigration of the last Government was a covert 21st century incomes policy.
Q236 Dr Huppert: I think many of us have heard that. Can I ask you specifically on your assessment of the fiscal impact of migration? There are a number of other factors as well. This paper suggests £25 billion over 10 years. Is that a figure you recognise? What is your best estimate of the fiscal impact? Do you have something better than this?
Mrs May: As I say, there are a number of estimates that are being put around by academics and others in relation to the impact. What I have indicated is that, in a very practical sense, when I looked at the orthodoxy view in relation to immigration, I did not believe that immigration had no impact and therefore-
Dr Huppert: That is a different question.
Mrs May: The Migration Advisory Committee has done some more specific work for us in a number of areas as to what the impact of immigration is, and that is part of the background and the basis on which-
Dr Huppert: You do not have an assessment on the net fiscal impact, then? Would you like to write to us with one?
Mrs May: I am happy to indicate to you the work that the Migration Advisory Committee has done on behalf of the Home Office in this area in relation to the impact of immigration.
Dr Huppert: They did not look at fiscal impacts.
Q237 Michael Ellis: Home Secretary, net immigration has fallen very significantly under your watch, hasn’t it?
Mrs May: It has.
Michael Ellis: In fact, particularly from outside the European Union. Did I hear you say something like 100,000 less?
Mrs May: I think the three key figures are that net migration overall has fallen by almost a third from its peak in 2010. Last year, 100,000 fewer people immigrated to the UK than in 2010, and if you look at net migration from outside the EU, it is at its lowest level since 1998.
Q238 Michael Ellis: Thank you. I do not want to ask you about the leak because it is quite right that you do not comment about leaks. Is it not correct, generally speaking as to the issue, that there are huge disparities in the economic conditions and status of many of the European Union countries? Do you think in the circumstances it is perfectly reasonable that countries like the United Kingdom, and perhaps Germany, look at the issue of unfettered freedom of movement between the European Union? Do you think that is a legitimate issue for this country and others, perhaps like Germany, to be looking at?
Mrs May: I think it is legitimate for us to look at it. Indeed, over the last three and a half years I have been talking about abuse of free movement within the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Europe, and a number of other member states have joined our concern in relation to this issue. Some work is being done under the Commission. Indeed, European Commissioner Reding has accepted now that there is a degree of abuse that takes place. I think member states would disagree with her about the extent of that. We think it is greater than the Commission has indicated, but it is a matter of concern and, therefore, it is entirely right that I should discuss this issue with other colleagues across Europe.
Q239 Michael Ellis: So there is a problem, or some series of problems, with the current regulations as they relate to an unfettered freedom of movement within the European Union and they can be found from left and right and from a number of different countries within the member states of the European Union. If you are having discussions with Ministers of the Interior from European Union member states, that would not be unreasonable, would it?
Mrs May: No, I think it is entirely appropriate. It is across a number of Governments that this concern has been raised. They are Governments of different make-ups in terms of the political make-up of the Governments of the member states, but it is Interior Ministers looking at the practical implications of what is happening and recognising that there are problems arising, particularly obviously around abuse of free movement, and feeling that something needs to be done about it.
Q240 Chair: Let us just close Romania and Bulgaria. You did not manage to get to Romania in the end?
Mrs May: No, I have not visited.
Chair: No, but your expectation is that it is going to be a smooth transition, it is business as usual and, therefore, you are going to be able to cope with the numbers who come in?
Mrs May: As I said, Chairman, I think it remains business as usual. We have made no predictions for the numbers who will be coming in. We have been taking steps to reduce the pull factors for the UK. As I have said, of course, that would not apply just to Romania and Bulgaria, but across the board. I think it is right that the Government takes the action that is available and open to it at this time.
Q241 Chair: At the moment, there are no proposals for a cap on the number of EU migrants, but this is work in progress for discussions that you are planning to have at some stage in the future?
Mrs May: I think it is absolutely right to look ahead to the reform of the EU and to include the question of freedom of movement and particularly when accession countries can have full access to the free movement rights.
Q242 Chair: Excellent. Let us just deal with a number of points, then I am going to release you because I know you have other duties. First of all, as far as the Andrew Mitchell issue is concerned, when you last appeared before us you were very clear you thought there ought to be disciplinary proceedings against those responsible following the IPCC report. Since then, of course, the IPCC has announced those proceedings. Someone is being charged with a criminal offence. He entered a "no plea" today. Eight other officers are the subject of disciplinary proceedings in the Met. A whole host of chief constables and others have apologised to Mr Mitchell. Do you think that it is now time to turn the page on this whole issue to allow the misconduct proceedings to reach a formal conclusion and the criminal proceedings to also be dealt with and then for people to move on, or do you think there is a wider issue of integrity in the police that this whole matter has thrown up?
Mrs May: Obviously, the misconduct proceedings and the criminal proceedings must take their course and come to their conclusion as appropriate. It has raised a concern for a number of people. This, alongside a number of other examples that we have seen-
Chair: Hillsborough, Savile.
Mrs May: Indeed. I think all of these have come together to raise some issues in the public mind about integrity. The vast majority of police officers operate absolutely honestly and with integrity day in and day out, and do a great job in keeping us safe and fighting crime. Obviously, where there are those who do not act in that way, sadly it does have an impact on public confidence.
Q243 Chair: But is it time to turn the page on this whole episode?
Mrs May: Well, as I say, I am not sure what you are expecting me to do in turning the page because the misconduct proceedings and the criminal proceedings must come to their conclusion.
Chair: When those are over?
Mrs May: I announced earlier this year a package of measures in relation to police integrity. I am pleased to see that the College of Policing published a draft code of ethics. I think they have had 3,000 responses to that draft code of ethics, which obviously they will now be looking at with a view to publishing a final code of ethics at some stage next year.
Q244 Chair: Today, you published your Modern Slavery Bill. We warmly welcome this. Obviously, we have all seen this case in Brixton of these people who were kept as slaves for nearly 30 years. Do you have any feel as to what the extent is of slavery in this country as opposed to the EU, where somebody has put the figure at 880,000-almost a million people? Do we know a figure for the UK as yet?
Mrs May: We do not have a figure for the UK. Sadly, we do not know the extent of this problem in the UK. We know the number of referrals to the national referral mechanism, but I do not think that would be in any way covering all the cases in the UK. Indeed, I believe Frank Field, who has published his panel’s report on public evidence sessions today, has indicated a figure of something like 10,000 victims, but we do not know whether that is the correct figure. It could be lower, but it could indeed be higher. This is one of the issues.
Q245 Chair: Do you have high expectations for this Bill?
Mrs May: I think this Bill is going to toughen up our ability to deal with the perpetrators of this terrible crime, to deal with the slave drivers, and if we can pursue and prosecute and put behind bars more of the slave drivers there will be fewer victims in the future.
Q246 Chair: As you know, the Committee has started an inquiry into FGM. Do you share our concern that nobody has been prosecuted as yet in all the years that it has been a crime?
Mrs May: I do share your concern about that. This was a position that was taken. It had support across parties in Parliament-that FGM was an issue that needed to be dealt with-and I think we do rightly need to challenge ourselves as to why it is that there have not been the prosecutions. There are issues around people being willing to come forward when this practice is being undertaken. There is much work being done by various organisations to try to ensure that we can see some prosecutions.
Chair: Thank you. Mr Winnick has a question and then, colleagues, the Home Secretary does have to be away, so if you could make it as brief as possible.
Q247 Mr Winnick: Apartheid has been very much in the news with the mourning of Nelson Mandela. If that form of apartheid was totally wrong, brutal and evil, as we all know, would you accept, Home Secretary, that any form of gender segregation in our country, which would obviously be different from what occurred in South Africa, but based on the same principle-separating men and women in public places-should be condemned?
Mrs May: I think that in public places it should be possible for men and women to be sitting together equally and not to be segregated.
Q248 Mr Winnick: When you say that, would you accept that there is a responsibility to try and ensure with segregation of that kind- Obviously, what happens in religious places is a matter for the religious people, and it is not one religion but a number of religions that segregate inside their places of worship. That is a matter for them. When it comes to public places, do you think that the Government and Parliament itself have a role to ensure that there is no question of segregation in universities or, as I say, in other public places based on gender?
Mrs May: It is right the Government should make it absolutely clear that we do not expect to see such segregation, particularly in places like universities, but in other public places, too. I am not sure, when you said Government had a role to play, whether you were thinking of some sort of issue around a legislative role to play. I am not sure. I think what the Government should say is a very clear message about how we expect people to operate in the UK in public places.
Chair: Thank you. I think Mr Winnick’s views are similar to those of all members of this Committee, as expressed by you.
Q249 Michael Ellis: Home Secretary, on the modern slavery point, can more be done without legislation? Do you think we can act in any way expeditiously without legislation? When it comes to legislation, I think the way current law is, there are a number of different statutes found all over the place and different laws of different ages that could be consolidated. Is that what you have in mind or not?
Mrs May: The Modern Slavery Bill will do a number of things. One of them is certainly bringing together the various offences around trafficking and modern slavery, which are currently spread around a number of other pieces of legislation. They will be bringing that together in one place. We will also introduce an anti-slavery commissioner. We will increase the maximum sentence from 14 years to life and we will introduce, for example, the slavery and trafficking prevention orders, which would enable action to be taken against an individual who had been convicted who comes out of prison. Currently, they may very well go back to being a gang master, doing exactly the same thing, but it will be possible under those orders to prevent somebody, for example, from being a gang master.
Michael Ellis: So simplifying and consolidating it?
Mrs May: Simplifying and pulling it together, but we will also be publishing an action plan in the spring that will look at those issues that do not require legislative action.
Michael Ellis: I know you are pressed for time, but you are looking at something in the spring that will not require legislation. Can you say anything more about that at the moment?
Mrs May: Yes. We are looking at a number of things. For example, I have indicated I will be reviewing the national referral mechanism because some questions have been raised about how that operates. We will be looking at the issue of support that is given to victims. One of the points that have been made by a number of NGOs is that, for some victims, they actively want to return home, but obviously not to be in the same circumstances that led to them being trafficked in the first place. How we can help and support them in that is one of those issues.
Michael Ellis: I was hoping you were going to say something about victim support. Thank you. That is all I have.
Q250 Dr Huppert: Home Secretary, one thing I welcomed in the Government’s drug strategy from 2010 was a commitment to develop an evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness and value for money of that. It seems right that that should be an evidence-based approach. I am pleased that we have finally, after much chasing, had the publication of that evaluation framework. Three years through, we are able to work out whether it might be working. I am surprised it has taken three years. It also seems rather thin in terms of what it says. It does not seem a very good product of three years’ work.
There are many examples, but I will not ask them all. In particular, on page 18 it says, "Establishing the conditions for robust counterfactual for enforcement is difficult and, as a result, there is little robust evidence." Do you think the people who put this together were not aware of the huge amount of work done by the Czech Republic in 1998 where they published an incredibly detailed impact analysis? Would you perhaps have a word with them to suggest they have a look at it and include it in an update?
Mrs May: I am aware that a number of approaches have been taken by different countries around the world. That is a matter that is being looked at within the Home Office at the moment. It is also the case, notwithstanding work that was done 15 years ago in the Czech Republic, that the approach we are taking-finding a means of making sure that we can properly evaluate an approach that is about getting people off drugs and ensuring that we do not just churn people through a system, but have a real meaningful and lasting impact-obviously takes time and is something that cannot be evidenced simply overnight.
Q251 Dr Huppert: It would be too cynical to suggest that it is simply because the Czech report found that criminalising drugs increased people taking it and made people’s health worse? That is not why it is not referred to?
Mrs May: As I have indicated, some work is being done to look at the approach that is taken in other countries around the world. There are a number of examples of conflicting approaches taken and conflicting evidence as to what the right approach is.
Dr Huppert: The absence of international comparisons for the evaluation framework for the 2010 drug strategy is because you are still working on it?
Mrs May: No. Sorry, I apologise. We have looked at what we should be doing here in the UK in terms of how we evaluate the impact of our drugs strategy.
Chair: Thank you. Any exciting plans for Christmas? Bucharest or Sofia or London?
Mrs May: None of those, I have to say, Chairman.
Chair: On behalf of the Committee, thank you very much for coming here today. We are most grateful to you for answering so many questions. May we wish you a very happy Christmas and a very happy New Year?
Mrs May: Thank you, Chairman, and the same to you and the Committee.
Chair: Thank you. That concludes the Home Secretary’s session.