PM Cameron said yesterday that his government will bring forward legislation under which ‘banning orders’ and ‘disruption orders’ will be used against ‘extremists’ and ‘extremist organisations’.
He told the National Security Council that the UK has been a ‘passively tolerant society’ for too long and a ‘counter-extremism bill’ will be in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May.
The bill will include new immigration rules, powers to close down premises used by ‘extremists’ and for the issuance of ‘extremism disruption orders’.
The proposals were first set out by Home Secretary Theresa May before the general election. The Tory plan is to introduce banning orders for organisations who use ‘hate speech’ in public places, but whose activities fall short of them being proscribed as a terror group.
Home Secretary May said yesterday: ‘What we are proposing is a bill which will have certain measures within it, measures such as introducing banning orders for groups and disruption orders for individuals, for those who are out there actively trying to promote this hatred and intolerance which can lead to division in our society and undermines our British values.’
The measures, she added, will focus on ‘extremism of all sorts . . . that is seeking to promote hatred, that is seeking to divide our society, that is seeking to undermine the very values that make us a great country to live in’.
The granting of a ban, which would be subject to immediate review by the High Court, would make membership or funding of the organisation concerned a criminal offence.
The extreme disruption orders could be imposed on individuals, using the same criteria. Under the Tory government’s plans, the Charity Commission will be given more power to ‘root out charities who misappropriate funds towards extremism and terrorism’, and broadcast regulator Ofcom will be able to take action against channels broadcasting ‘extremist content’.
Cameron said: ‘For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens “as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone”.’
The Tory government will ‘conclusively turn the page on this failed approach,’ he said.
LibDem MP Tim Farron described the Tory plans as ‘Orwellian’, saying: ‘This is a deliberate attempt to divide the country, to divide and rule, and to overrule basic civil liberties.
‘We already have laws to deal with incitement to hatred and violence, we do not need new laws.’
Meanwhile, ‘economic migrants’ rescued from the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe should be sent back, Home Secretary May insisted yesterday.
Offering resettlement would encourage more to make ‘perilous journeys’, she claimed, saying that this was why the UK will not back a resettlement quota plan the European Commission is publishing.
A UK warship rescued 450 people from the Mediterranean yesterday, while the UN estimates that 60,000 people have already tried to cross from North Africa this year; more than 1,800 have died – a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.