Counter Terror Bill work – an update
The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill has now completed Commons committee stages. I asked to be on the committee following the terror attack on London Bridge and Borough Market in the constituency last June. The Bill was a chance to raise some of the issues that affected the local community following that attack.
The Bill brought forward an update to terror insurance that I have asked for since last June. That is to include ‘non-physical’ damage to firms in areas attacked by terrorists under coverage offered by the Government-backed Pool Reinsurance system. Before now, only physical damage to premises could be covered. In SE1 that meant businesses who lost produce, stock, had staff leave and needed to recruit, lost contracts or bookings all had no protection from the Government.
The Bill should mean that UK employers are better protected in future, wherever an attack might occur.
Coverage could have been backdated under this Bill to better help those affected by last year’s attacks. The Government was warned in advance of the need to cover ‘non-physical’ damage but ignored advice. The Minister claimed Government’s do not retrofit provisions – despite the retrofitting of laws like the Bedroom Tax for example, which hit hundreds of thousands of people. Retrospective coverage would have helped the London Bridge and Borough Market area where 150 businesses lost around £2 million due to the attack last year but, after thirteen months of waiting for central Government support, traders were denied assistance.
Instead, the Minister offered to meet to develop a ‘compensation’ plan of some description which I hope the council and City Hall will help develop in conjunction with Borough Market Trust and the businesses directly affected.
I raised several other amendments which were discussed on committee, including:
- Introducing an annual review to ensure Government backed systems were kept up to date, in the face of any further changes to the kind of attacks we might experience;
- Better systems of more swiftly classifying acts of terror to prevent insurers withholding help;
- Boosting take-up of insurance to protect from attacks and their potential impact; and
- Covering the use of rented vehicles in terror attacks.
Ending profits from terrorism
The Government sadly blocked my efforts to prevent anyone profiting from public donations to terror attack victims and communities.
Online platforms that help collect and pass on donations to the people who have experienced attacks often take not just their admin fees or obligatory charges for the charities involved, they also take revenues. They make money from the attacks.
After the May 2017 Manchester Arena bomb, people donated £5.5million to help the families affected. But JustGiving took £277,000 from this on top of admin fees and charges. I think this is unacceptable and sought to end this grim practice of creaming off donations. The Government voted it down sadly, although suggested the Treasury and other departments are examining this and related issues for regulations further down the line.
The Bill will soon have Commons Report Stage and will then go to the House of Lords for similar scrutiny.