The Queen has said the government will prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms and promote community integration.
The legislation aims to help deliver on the Tories’ manifesto pledge to tackle all forms of extremism, so “our values and our way of life are properly promoted and defended”.
The bill follows a programme to tackle extremism and radicalisation announced last year which proposed introducing banning orders for “extremist organisations” who use hate speech in public places, but whose activities fall short of proscription, and new powers for authorities to close down premises used to support extremism.
New measures to protect children and restrict the activities of fanatics will be rolled out in a crackdown on extremism. The counter-extremism and safeguarding bill will include powers to intervene in unregulated schools which “teach hate” and “drive communities apart.”
Vetting rules are expected to be adapted to enable employers to check whether an individual is an extremist and bar them from working with children.
And ministers will consult on rolling out a civil order regime to “restrict extremist activity”, as well as new powers to enable the government to step in when councils fail to tackle extremism.
Advocacy group CAGE said the Bill is attempting to politically exploit concerns about politically-motivated violence as a means to silence dissenting and unpopular views.
Ibrahim Mohamoud, Communications Officer, said: “For many, this will be seen as an extension of the Prevent Strategy, exacerbating the chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent. The government needs to learn from the criticisms levelled against the Prevent policy and rather adopt an approach that is based on dialogue and openness.
“Proposals on removing ‘extremist’ material and giving those powers to Ofcom to enforce on broadcasters is a further encroachment and erosion of balance and press independence.
“Curtailing someone’s ability to express their freedom of speech, should happen when incitement and calls to harm others are made. Anything which seeks to redraw that long established consensus will inevitability be seen for what it is – a baseless power grab by the Government for its own political purposes.
“British society has been based around cultural institutions, rather than attempts to impose British ‘values’. Governments should not be in the business of passing laws against people and groups who express opinions they disagree with.”