HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes
The first responsibility of government is to uphold national security, so protecting our people. In the context of this primary endeavour, with the world seeing the rise of religious extremism and violence, homeland security has become as important as guarding our borders from external threats. Knowing this, I was greatly honoured when the Prime Minister asked me to become the new Minister for Security, with responsibility for overseeing counter-terrorism.
The first responsibility of government is to uphold national security, so protecting our people
The Queen’s speech last week saw the government unveiling important plans to improve schools, increase the number of apprenticeships and extend home ownership. But underpinning the agenda to extend opportunity, provide social justice and build ‘one nation’ is an essential focus on security. That’s why the Queen announced new legislation that will enable government and the security services to do more to keep people safe.
As the Prime Minister has said, the liberal orthodoxy that government takes a neutral stance between different values has held sway for too long, consequently permitting a narrative of extremism and hate. This government will actively promote British values, both by pursuing an inclusive ‘one nation’ agenda and by protecting the public from fanatics who promote views and behaviour that threaten our values. A new Extremism Bill will enable the Home Secretary to ban extremist groups and provide a new power for the police and local authorities to close down premises, including Mosques, used as a base for extremism.
As the use of the internet as a method of spreading extremism and recruiting terrorists grows, it is vitally important that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies refine their ability to target online communications. The Investigatory Powers Bill will enable the security services to monitor communications data, a gap in capability that has previously put lives at risk. As Minister for Security I will have a key role in piloting this legislation through Parliament.
We should all be proud of the work our security services undertake every day to keep us safe, often at great personal risk. Much of this work is, by necessity, conducted in secret, as a consequence so being unknown and unheralded. To serve in the new Conservative Government, in such an important role, means that the great responsibility to do whatever it takes to protect national security falls to me.