Transnational Repression by Hostile States

Home Department – in the House of Commons am ar 26 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health)

What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of steps taken by his Department to tackle transnational repression by hostile states.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. She is aware that the Government are continually assessing the potential threats to individual rights and freedoms and to safety across the United Kingdom. I thank her for the efforts she made to represent her views to me in a different forum.

Whenever we identify such threats, we will always use every measure at our disposal, including our intelligence services, to mitigate any threat to individuals. In the first instance, I urge anyone concerned for their safety to contact the police. The hon. Lady will no doubt be aware that the National Security Act 2023 includes measures to tackle foreign interference, including transnational repression. The defending democracy taskforce is reviewing the UK’s response to develop our understanding of the issue and ensure a system-wide response.

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health)

Transnational repression to silence dissent in democracies is extremely serious. In recent months, Five Eyes nations have raised concerns about the actions of agents with links to India targeting Sikh activists in the United Kingdom. Most disturbingly, there have been alleged assassinations and foiled assassination plots. The US and Canadian authorities have taken the lead at senior levels to publicly call out this challenge to their sovereignty, the rule of law and their democratic values. Given the reports of British Sikhs facing similar threats, what steps are the Government taking to secure their safety? Will the Minister show the same strength as our partners do in publicly defending their democratic rights?

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

Let me be completely clear: if there are any specific threats against any British citizen by any foreign power, we will take immediate action. The Sikh community should be as safe as every other community in the United Kingdom. All British citizens are equal, whatever their colour, creed, faith or political allegiance. The reality is that we have taken all the action we believe is appropriate at this stage. We of course maintain a very close relationship with our Five Eyes partners, and we are absolutely clear that if the situation changes and we need to take action, we will do so.

Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security)

Russia’s deadly poison attack in Salisbury, Iran’s intimidation of Iran International journalists and China’s secret police stations have long showed the need for a robust strategy to counter transnational repression on British soil. The Minister mentioned that a review is under way into the UK’s approach to transnational repression. When will it be published, and will it be part of a wider strategy to counter hostile state activity in this country?

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. The review is under way, and it includes many different elements from communities from around the world who are now settled happily in the United Kingdom. He will understand why I will not go into individual details. Certain communities have been targeted, such as the Hong Kong Chinese community, which is now very welcome in the United Kingdom under a policy that this Government introduced—I am very proud of the number who have claimed asylum and taken the opportunity as British nationals overseas to settle here—and we are looking at others. We are open to any reports of transnational repression, and we are listening.