Orders of the Day — Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:49 pm on 26th October 2005.

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Photo of Shahid Malik Shahid Malik Labour, Dewsbury 5:49 pm, 26th October 2005

I fully accept that the police and security services need to do much more to give to those communities the confidence that they are not being unfairly targeted. Indeed, as a former commissioner on the Commission for Racial Equality, I have raised that issue on number occasions.

The Home Secretary recognises more than most that legislation on its own cannot create the kind of society that we want. Our battle must also be one to win the hearts and minds of all decent Britons. That is why I applaud the seven working groups that he has set up to deal with the environment that can fuel extremism and foster terrorism. I also applaud his decision to chair the commission on integration and cohesion, which has the potential to do much good.

Although it is absolutely right that we focus on young Muslims in our inner cities who feel alienated and isolated and are ripe for exploitation by extremists, it is equally true that young white men in our peripheral estates also feel alienated and isolated, albeit for different reasons, and are similarly ripe for exploitation by far right-wing groups. We ignore their needs at our peril. However, the debate is about legislation, and like many hon. Members I have much sympathy with the Home Secretary's intentions in introducing the Bill.

To those who would say that introducing these laws is a sign that the terrorists have won, I say that they have the luxury of expressing that view. Our role in the House is to guard against such self-indulgence and to prioritise the protection of our people in the face of a new and lethal threat. Since 7 July, this country has changed. Our world has changed, and I accept that we must respond to the challenges that that change presents. I do not believe that anyone can be happy with the prospect of introducing legislation under such circumstances, but it is essential that we now re-examine the balance between liberty and security and between rights and responsibilities.