Coalition against International Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:16 pm on 8 October 2001.

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Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point 9:16, 8 October 2001

I have four points to make, but first I pay tribute unreservedly to the British armed forces. The world recognises their unique abilities and bravery.

The overall war aim must be to remove international terrorism wherever it arises and in whatever guise it comes, not just to remove the al-Qaeda network, which is our initial aim. The priority must be to tackle and remove the threat of terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction around the world, as Dr. Strang has just explained. In that way we can make the world a much safer place, and that must be our end product.

This time we must finish the job, and finish it properly. Throughout history, commanders have made the fundamental error of not prosecuting war to the very end. I believe that the Gulf war 10 years ago was an example of that. I wonder whether those on the Treasury Bench will accept that, at the right time, the theatre should be extended to include Iraq.

We must make this a just war and we can do that by minimising the risk to innocent civilians rather than minimising the risk to allied forces, unlike our approach in Kosovo. That must be the basic rule of our engagement at all times. We must achieve accurate and highly focused targeting and we must keep our word on delivering international humanitarian aid. In that way we can keep the coalition intact and avoid an escalation into what would be a disastrous holy war.

The levels of terrorist threat against Britain have increased significantly. Therefore, we must establish sound precautionary measures and increase our vigilance, particularly for the thousands of my constituents who work in the City of London and who must be reassured. Like my hon. Friend Richard Ottaway, I should like confirmation that adequate police resources will be available across London. I would also stress that normal life and work in London must go on, as far as possible.

I take this opportunity to put on record the fact that the target on Canvey Island in my constituency that was hit by the IRA about 20 years ago no longer exists—the installations have been removed. I trust that my constituents can take comfort from that knowledge.

War is evil, but there are times when we have to perpetrate an evil to remove a greater evil. Our prayers and hopes go with our armed forces, along with our undiluted admiration.