London Attacks

– in the House of Commons at 10:33 am on 23rd March 2017.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 10:33 am, 23rd March 2017

Yesterday, an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: we are not afraid, and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism. We meet here, in the oldest of all Parliaments, because we know that democracy, and the values that it entails, will always prevail. Those values—free speech, liberty, human rights and the rule of law—are embodied here in this place, but they are shared by free people around the world.

A terrorist came to the place where people of all nationalities and cultures gather to celebrate what it means to be free, and he took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women and children. This was an attack on free people everywhere, and on behalf of the British people, I would like to thank our friends and allies around the world who have made it clear that they stand with us at this time. What happened on the streets of Westminster yesterday afternoon sickened us all.

While there is an ongoing police investigation, the House will understand that there are limits to what I can say, but, having been updated by police and security officials, let me set out what, at this stage, I can tell the House. At approximately 2.40 pm yesterday, a single attacker drove his vehicle at speed into innocent pedestrians who were crossing Westminster bridge, killing two people and injuring around 40 more. In addition to 12 Britons admitted to hospital, we know that the victims include three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, one American and two Greeks, and we are in close contact with the Governments of the countries of all those affected. The injured also included three police officers who were returning from an event to recognise their bravery; two of those three remain in a serious condition.

The attacker then left the vehicle and approached a police officer at Carriage Gates, attacking that officer with a large knife, before he was shot dead by an armed police officer. Tragically, as the House will know, 48-year-old PC Keith Palmer was killed.

PC Palmer had devoted his life to the service of his country. He had been a member of the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command for 15 years, and a soldier in the Royal Artillery before that. He was a husband and a father, killed doing a job he loved. He was every inch a hero, and his actions will never be forgotten. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I know that the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to his family, and to the families and friends of all those who have been killed or injured in yesterday’s awful attacks. I know also that the House will wish to thank all those who acted with such speed and professionalism yesterday to secure this place and ensure that we are able to meet, as we are doing today.

At 7.30 pm last night, I chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee, Cobra, and will have further briefings and meetings with security officials today. The threat level to the UK has been set at “severe”—meaning an attack is highly likely—for some time. This is the second highest threat level. The highest level—“critical”—means that there is specific intelligence that an attack is imminent. As there is no such intelligence, the independent joint terrorism analysis centre has decided that the threat level will not change in the light of yesterday’s attack.

The whole country will want to know who was responsible for this atrocity and the measures that we are taking to strengthen our security, including here in Westminster. A full counter-terrorism investigation is already under way. Hundreds of our police and security officers have been working through the night to establish everything possible about this attack, including its preparation and motivation, and whether there were any associates involved in its planning. And while there remain limits on what I can say at this stage, I can confirm that overnight the police have searched six addresses and made eight arrests in Birmingham and London.

It is still believed that this attacker acted alone, and the police have no reason to believe that there are imminent further attacks on the public. His identity is known to the police and MI5, and when operational considerations allow, he will be publicly identified. What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that—some years ago—he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure. The case is historic: he was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was no prior intelligence of his intent or of the plot. Intensive investigations continue, and as Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley confirmed last night, our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology.

We know the threat from Islamist terrorism is very real, but while the public should remain utterly vigilant, they should not, and will not, be cowed by this threat. As Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley has made clear, we are stepping up policing to protect communities across the country and to reassure the public. As a precautionary measure, this will mean increasing the number of patrols in cities across the country, with more police and more armed police on the streets.

Since June 2013, our police, security and intelligence agencies have successfully disrupted 13 separate terrorist plots in Britain. Following the 2015 strategic defence and security review, we protected the police budgets for counter-terrorism and committed to increase cross-Government spending on counter-terrorism by 30% in real terms over the course of this Parliament. Over the next five years, we will invest an extra £2.5 billion in building our global security and intelligence network, employing over 1,900 additional staff at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, and more than doubling our global network of counter-terrorism experts working with priority countries across Europe, the middle east, Africa and Asia.

In terms of security here in Westminster, we should be clear first of all that an attacker attempted to break into Parliament and was shot dead within 20 yards of the gates. If his intention was to gain access to this building, we should be clear that he did not succeed. The police heroically did their job. But, as is routine, the police, together with the House authorities, are reviewing the security of the parliamentary estate, co-ordinated with the Cabinet Office, which has responsibility for the security measures in place around the Government secure zone. All of us in this House have a responsibility for the security and safety of our staff, and advice is available for Members who need it.

Yesterday, we saw the worst of humanity, but we will remember the best. We will remember the extraordinary efforts to save the life of PC Keith Palmer, including those of my hon. Friend Mr Ellwood. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] And we will remember the exceptional bravery of our police, security and emergency services who once again ran towards the danger even as they encouraged others to move the other way. On behalf of the whole country, I want to pay tribute to them for the work they have been doing to reassure the public, treat the injured and bring security back to the streets of our capital city. That they have lost one of their own in yesterday’s attack only makes their calmness and professionalism all the more remarkable.

A lot has been said since terror struck London yesterday. Much more will be said in the coming days. But the greatest response lies not in the words of politicians but in the everyday actions of ordinary people. For beyond these walls today, in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country, millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives. The streets are as busy as ever, the offices full, the coffee shops and cafés bustling. As I speak, millions will be boarding trains and aeroplanes to travel to London and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth. It is in these actions—millions of acts of normality—that we find the best response to terrorism: a response that denies our enemies their victory, that refuses to let them win, that shows we will never give in; a response driven by that same spirit that drove a husband and father to put himself between us and our attacker, and to pay the ultimate price; a response that says to the men and women who propagate this hate and evil, “You will not defeat us.” Mr Speaker, let this be the message from this House and this nation today: our values will prevail. I commend this statement to the House.

Hear, hear.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. Colleagues, I am advised that we have been joined today by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault—Sir, we appreciate your presence and your fitting display of solidarity with us—who is accompanied by a number of his colleagues and also by the deputy Foreign Secretary, Sir Alan Duncan.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 10:45 pm, 23rd March 2017

I join you, Mr Speaker, in welcoming our colleagues from France here today, and I associate myself with the Prime Minister’s remarks. What happened yesterday within metres of where we sit now was an appalling atrocity. The police are still piecing together what took place and what lay behind it. It behoves us all not to rush to judgment, but to wait for the police to establish the facts, to stay united in our communities and not to allow fear or the voices of hatred to divide or cower us. Today, we are united by our humanity, by our democratic values and by that human impulse for solidarity to stand together in times of darkness and adversity.

I express my condolences to the family and friends of police officer Keith Palmer who gave his life yesterday in defence of the public and our democracy. We thank the police and security personnel who keep us safe every day on this estate, and we especially pay tribute to the bravery of those who took action to stop the perpetrator of yesterday’s assault. The police and security staff lost a colleague yesterday and continued to fulfil their duties, despite their shock and their grief for their fallen colleague, which many of them expressed to me when I was talking to them late last night. We see the police and security staff every day. They are our colleagues. They are fellow workers. They are friends. They are neighbours. As the Prime Minister said, when dangerous and violent incidents take place, we all instinctively run away from them for our own safety; the police and emergency services run towards them. We are grateful for their public service yesterday, today and every day that they pull on their uniforms to protect us all.

I want to express our admiration for Mr Ellwood, whose efforts yesterday deserve special commendation. He used his skill to try to save a life.

Innocent people were killed yesterday walking across Westminster bridge, as many millions of Londoners and tourists and all of us in this Chamber have done before them. As the Prime Minister said, the injured include people of 10 nationalities. We send our deepest condolences to their loved ones and to the loved ones of those still in a critical condition, including the French schoolchildren so welcome in our capital who were visiting from Concarneau in Brittany. We send our sympathies to them and to the people of their town and their community.

We thank all the dedicated national health service staff working to save lives, including all those from St Thomas’ hospital who rushed straight over to the scene of the incident to try to support and save lives. Many people will have been totally traumatised by yesterday’s awful events—not just all of us here, but those who were watching on television, worried for the safety of their friends and loved ones—so I ask in this House and in the country, please, that we look after each other, help one another and think of one another. It is by demonstrating our values—solidarity, community, humanity and love—that we will defeat the poison and division of hatred.

Hear, hear.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I join the right hon. Gentleman and you, Mr Speaker, in expressing our gratitude for the support and solidarity that the French Government have shown us at this difficult time. Like many other countries on the continent, France has obviously felt the horror and trauma of terrible terrorist attacks, and we are grateful to the French Government for the support that they have shown us.

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right in his description of the police officers. Every day they put on that uniform, they do not know what they will confront in the course of their duties. It is a fact often forgotten when people see the police officer walking on the streets that, actually, they put their life on the line for our safety and security. They show enormous bravery, and we are grateful to them all.

We are also grateful, as the right hon. Gentleman said, to all those from the emergency services, to those from the hospitals and to others who rushed forward to give aid and support to those who had been injured at a time when they knew not what else might be happening in the vicinity and whether they themselves might be in danger.

Finally, as the right hon. Gentleman said, at this time it is so important that we show that it is our values that will prevail, that the terrorists will not win and that we will go about our lives showing that unity of purpose and the values that we share as one nation as we go forward, ensuring that the terrorists will be defeated.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

I join my right hon. Friend in everything she says in respect of the deaths and injuries that have taken place, and I join her in sending our condolences to the families and the injured.

My right hon. Friend has set exactly the right tone. Those of us who are privy to the information and background of these matters know very well that it has been little short of a miracle that, over the course of the last few years, we have escaped so lightly from the evil that is, I am afraid, present in our society and that manifests itself in these senseless and hideous acts of violence and evil. We have been very fortunate in that our security services have been immensely diligent and helpful in preventing such attacks, but she may agree with me that the House will simply have to be resolute in accepting that such attacks cannot always be prevented and that, as a society, we have to accept that we are going to have to fight this evil with rational democratic principles in order to get rid of it and that, in reality, there are no shortcuts that will ever enable us to do that.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely agree with my right hon. and learned Friend. In a sense, he refers to the fact that a number of plots have been disrupted in recent years, and it is easy to forget that when the threat level is at severe it means that an attack is highly likely. We live in a free and open country, we live in a democracy, and as he says it is not possible to ensure that we can prevent the possibility of any attack, but we can work as hard as our security services and police do precisely to try to prevent attacks. They have worked hard and have been doing a good job, and they continue to do a good job, in keeping us safe and will do so into the future.

If we are to defeat this evil, my right hon. and learned Friend is right that we will defeat it through our democracy and our values. We must defeat, of course, the terrible ideology that leads people to conduct these horrific attacks.

Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader

I begin by associating myself and my hon. and right hon. Friends with everything that has been said by the Prime Minister, by the leader of the Labour party and by you, Mr Speaker. Today of all days, we are reminded that, notwithstanding our differences on political and constitutional issues, we are as one in our dedication to democracy, the rule of law and harmony between peoples of all faiths and none.

I personally wish the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary well as they work very hard on our behalf with the security and intelligence services to deal with the aftermath of the appalling indiscriminate terrorist act yesterday. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of PC Keith Palmer and of all other casualties. We are all hugely grateful to all the police, security and intelligence staff and first responders who ran towards danger without concern for their own safety, and I include in that our colleague, Mr Ellwood.

Today is not a day for detailed questions, so will the Prime Minister accept on behalf of the Scottish National party, and no doubt every Member of this House, our huge debt of gratitude to all police and security agency staff who are working so hard to keep everyone in the country safe? Does she agree with me that no terrorist outrage—no terrorist outrage—is representative of any faith, or of any faith community, and that we recommit ourselves to strengthening the bonds of tolerance and understanding?

Finally, is it not best to follow the advice of Brendan Cox, the husband of our murdered MP colleague, Jo Cox? He said:

“In the days to come I hope we will remember the love &
bravery of the victims not just the hatred &
cowardice of the attackers.”

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his words. He is absolutely correct that now is a time for us to come together to promote the values of tolerance and understanding to which he referred, and to recognise that what motivates the terrorists is a warped ideology and a desire to destroy the values that we share and that underpin our democracy—those values of the rule of law, human rights, tolerance and understanding, and democracy itself. We should be absolutely at one in ensuring that those values prevail. Finally, as he says, we should remember the bravery of the victims and the bravery of those who keep us safe, day in, day out.

Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green

I commend my right hon. Friend’s powerful statement and add my prayers to hers for those who have died and those who are suffering, and particularly for Keith Palmer, our wonderful and brave police officer. We have faced such threats before from those of twisted and violent ideologies, as the broken stones of the arch through which we enter on a daily basis bear testament to. Time and again, they have failed; they will always fail because we are a beacon of freedom in this place, and that is why they target us. But as they fail, may I urge my right hon. Friend to ensure that as we extoll our righteous defiance in the face of such evil, we lace it with compassion, tolerance and hope?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely share the thoughts that my right hon. Friend has set out. He is right: this place is a beacon of freedom, and we should never forget that. We should be absolutely resolute in our determination to defeat this evil, but we should also be optimistic and hopeful for our democracy and our society in the future.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Leader of the Liberal Democrats

I thank the Prime Minister for her statement and for early sight of it. I also thank her for her words from the steps of 10 Downing Street last night, which were both unifying and defiant, and in which she really did speak for us all. We always know that the police keep us safe, but yesterday, in the most shocking of ways, we saw how true that really is. In my prayers are Keith Palmer, his family and all the victims of yesterday’s outrage, and they will continue to be there. I am, and we are, beyond thankful to the police, the NHS, the emergency services and the staff of this House for keeping us safe and being so utterly dedicated to their roles. Those who attack us hate our freedom, our peaceful democracy, our love of country, our tolerance, our openness and our unity. As we work to unravel how this unspeakable attack happened, will the Prime Minister agree with me that we must not, either in our laws or by our actions, curtail these values? Indeed, we should have more of them.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. He is of course right that, as others have said, we should ensure that our values of democracy, tolerance and freedom prevail. It is exactly those values that the terrorists are trying to attack. It is our very way of life that they wish to destroy, and that is why it is so important that, out there, those millions of citizens are going about their lives, as they would do normally, showing, in the very smallest of ways, but each and every one of them, a defiance of the terrorists.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

Although yesterday’s dreadful events took place within the boundaries of my constituency, I know that the Palace of Westminster is close to the hearts of not just the 650 of us but of many millions of our fellow countrymen and, indeed, people who live abroad. I thank the Prime Minister for speaking so very eloquently for the nation, both on the steps of Downing Street yesterday evening and in the House today. She reminds us all that the greatest tribute that we, collectively, can pay to those so tragically murdered is to ensure that we go about our business as normally as possible and maintain the values and liberties that our forefathers fought so hard to win on our behalf.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend. It is so important that we continue to show not just that we value those freedoms and liberties, but that we espouse and, in every action, embody them, because it is those that the terrorists wish to attack. Those freedoms and liberties were hard fought, and there are parts of this Palace where in the past there have been many arguments about them. We must ensure that they remain, and that we show, in our actions, in our deeds and in our words, that they remain at the heart of our democracy.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee)

I thank the Prime Minister for her words here today, and also her words on the steps of Downing Street yesterday. At this very difficult and important time she spoke for us all, so I thank her for that.

We are so proud of the bravery of PC Keith Palmer, so sad for his grieving family, but so grateful for what he did to keep us safe. I wish to add my tribute to all the police and the parliamentary staff here in Westminster who acted with such calmness and professionalism yesterday. I wish to pay tribute, too, to the emergency trauma team at King’s College hospital who are caring for the injured. This was an horrific crime and it has cost lives and caused injury, but as an act of terror it has failed. It has failed because we are here and we will go about our business. It has failed because, despite the trauma that our staff witnessed outside their windows, they are here and getting on with their work. It has failed because, as the Prime Minister so rightly said, we are not going to allow this to be used as a pretext for division, hatred and Islamophobia. This democracy is strong, and this Parliament is robust. This was an horrific crime, but, as an act of terror, it has failed.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The right hon. and learned Lady speaks very well and I utterly agree with her words.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

Some of us were present 38 years ago and nearby when Airey Neave was martyred. The lesson that we learned then was not to damn a community because of the actions of a single person. The message from the imam at the Worthing House of Prayer and Peace was:

“We will always be with those who work for peace.”

May I suggest that we try to disappoint those who calculate that publicity and public reaction will work in their favour by making sure that we work together?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. The Metropolitan police are bringing together a number of faith leaders for a meeting today to show the importance of that coming together. They are of course working with communities up and down the country, especially with those that are concerned about the possible reaction that might take place, to reassure them that the job of the police is to keep us all safe.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Labour, Doncaster North

May I join others in commending the Prime Minister for her statement last night and her statement today? In her tone and in substance, she has spoken for the whole country and I commend her for it. May I also echo those who have said that, in the coming days and weeks, we must not allow anyone to try to divide our country on the basis of faith or nationality after these attacks? The reality is that, across London and across the country, we are united against these attacks; that is who we are.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: the country is united. People of all faiths and none are going about their business in defiance of the terrorists. Their very clear message is that they will not be cowed, and that is a message that this House gives very clearly today: this country will not be cowed by these terrorists.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet

I too send my sympathies to all those bereaved or injured in yesterday’s horrific attack. As we reflect on what happened, we must ask if it is time to consider whether the police who guard sensitive sites known to be of interest to terrorists, such as Parliament or airports, should routinely carry personal protection weapons, even when those officers are not part of the units formally tasked with armed response?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Over the nearly 20 years that I have been in this House, the level of security on the parliamentary estate has been enhanced significantly, and the number of armed officers on the parliamentary estate has been enhanced significantly. As to whether individual officers undertaking particular duties are routinely armed, that is an operational matter for the police themselves. They are best able to judge the circumstances in which it is best for individuals to have such arms. Of course, we have seen a significant increase in the number of armed response vehicles and the number of counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers. It is a sad reflection of the threat that we face that it has been necessary to do that, but we have been doing so. But, as I said, my right hon. Friend’s specific question is really an operational matter for the police.

Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Reform and Constitutional Issues), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), DUP Westminster Leader

May I too commend the Prime Minister for her words last evening and today, when she spoke for all of us and for the entire country? PC Keith Palmer and his colleagues are the reason we are here today and on any other day. He embodied the rule of law, which we stand for, and stood in harm’s way for all of us. We remember and pray for his family, all the victims who suffered yesterday and the bereaved. We must remember, too, and always will, the bravery of the emergency services, the police, the security forces and our own parliamentary staff and, indeed, the goodness and decency of ordinary members of the public who rushed without regard for their own safety to help people—that includes our hon. Friend Mr Ellwood.

We must uphold the values of this place—our democratic values. We have learned in Northern Ireland that the way to overcome terrorism is by working together politically, and in every other way, to ensure that our democratic values, the rule of law and human rights are all upheld in every way that they can be. We must rededicate ourselves to that in the future.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman—we are able to be here today because of the bravery of our police officers. He rightly referred to the emergency services and others—members of the public, as he said—and to the staff of this House and of this Parliament who calmly went about their jobs to ensure that everybody was safe yesterday. As he said—he referred to the experience in Northern Ireland—the way to defeat terrorism is by working together and upholding our democratic values.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

As a Back Bencher, it seems to me that both the Prime Minister and the leaders of the opposition parties have set exactly the right tone today and prove that it is values that unite this kingdom. When this Chamber was completely destroyed in the war, Mr Churchill and Mr Attlee decided that not a single day would pass without our carrying on our work. The Prime Minister and her opposite number have shown today that the best way to defeat terrorism is to prove that we will not be moved from our values and our place.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He refers to a specific example in the past when, once again, Parliament upheld our democracy and showed our values in the face of evil, and we continue to do that today.

Photo of Alan Johnson Alan Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle

The Prime Minister is dealing with this outrage in a calm and assured way. Does she agree that an effective counter-terrorism strategy designed to prepare, protect and pursue would be inadequate without the strand of prevent? In that vein, will she assure the House that across all 43 constabularies there will be neighbourhood policing teams visible to, and contactable by, the public, which is a crucial strand in feeding information on terrorism to the counter-terrorism organisations?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The right hon. Gentleman is right. As he knows from his experience, our counter-terrorism strategy does indeed embody those four pillars, including the pillar of prevent. The action that is taken to prevent terrorism, violent extremism and extremism will come in many forms, but it is important that individual within communities feel that they are able to give information when they are concerned about somebody within their community, or perhaps within their family, and what is happening to them. It is important that there are those opportunities for them. There will be a variety of means—some through policing and some through other opportunities—where people can go and give such information, not just only for the protection of us all but often to the benefit of the individual concerned.

Photo of James Berry James Berry Conservative, Kingston and Surbiton

May I commend the Prime Minister for her very fitting statement? When police officers die, they leave behind husbands, wives, sons and daughters. The Police Dependants’ Trust was set up to support the dependants of police officers killed or injured on duty, following the brutal murder of three police officers in Shepherd’s Bush in 1966. Will the Prime Minister join me in encouraging people to donate to the Police Dependants’ Trust via pdtrust.org/donate?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am very happy to encourage people to do exactly as my hon. Friend suggests. It is a valuable organisation, providing help and support to the families who are left behind. As we have all said, they have to live forever with what, for us, has been an act of bravery from their family member, but which, for them, is a tragedy and a trauma.

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Chair, Home Affairs Committee

I, too, welcome the Prime Minister’s words, as she speaks for all of us with the backing of all parties today. She was right to say that this was an attempted attack on Parliament and democracy that failed because of the bravery of PC Keith Palmer, who gave his life doing a job with others to keep people safe. It was also a violent, cowardly attempted attack on our freedom, by mowing down people who were just walking along a bridge. As our hearts go out to them, does the Prime Minister agree that that attack on freedom also fails, not just because of communities’ resilience and determination but because of the perhaps unique partnership in this country between the police and communities of all faiths and across all parts of the country, and that that partnership working will be crucial to our making sure that the terrorists never win?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The right hon. Lady is right; it was a cowardly attack. Parliament has particularly focused on the attempt to attack Parliament, but the mowing down of innocent men, women and children who were just going about their business in a variety of ways—many had come here as tourists to enjoy the great delights of this wonderful city—was an absolutely cowardly and appalling act. We have a unique bond between our police and their communities, and it is important that the partnership and bond continue.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

May I commend the Prime Minister’s statement? I also commend the Prime Minister for her reassuring dignity and resolve. She has shown why she is proving to be a superb Prime Minister, and why we are proud to have her as our Prime Minister. Of course, our hearts go out to the victims, and we honour the police, who risk their lives every day and, unfortunately, too often give up their lives to keep us safe. Will the Prime Minister assure us that she will ensure that police forces up and down the country, and the security services, will always have the resources they need to carry out their job of keeping us all safe?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. As I indicated in my statement, we have taken steps to enhance the resources available for our security and intelligence agencies, and for our police forces, particularly those working in counter-terrorism. As I indicated in my answer to an earlier question, we have looked, in recent times, to increase the number of armed response vehicles available not just here in London but in other parts of the country. Of course, we constantly look at making sure that our response is appropriate, but we are very conscious of the job that our police do, day in and day out, and we give them the support that they need.

Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Education), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Health), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Shadow PC Spokesperson (Energy & Natural Resources), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Local Government), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice)

I speak for my party, Plaid Cymru. I commend the Prime Minister for her words today. All of us being here today is not a show of defiance. It is a show of respect for the dead and the injured, respect for democracy and respect for our duty to our constituents. One man cannot shut down a city and lock down democracy. Does the Prime Minister agree that we must not react to such a warped ideology with unworthy responses?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

What is absolutely appropriate is the response that this House has shown today: it has shown gratitude for the bravery of our police and our emergency services; it has shown respect and concern for those who have been the victims of the terrible attacks that took place; but, also, it has shown normality, and that is what is important as we defy the terrorists, and as we work to defeat them.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley

I thank the Prime Minister for her statement. I have been an MP for 25 years, and I have seen the police play many roles around the Palace of Westminster, one of which is to give advice to members of the public about where to go. None of us will have passed Carriage Gates without seeing members of the public having their photographs taken with the police—that too is one of the things the police do. One of the other things they do is protect our democracy, as we saw yesterday—with brutal consequences.

I am very proud of the police and everything they do in defending our democracy. Keith Palmer was one of us; every one of the police who protect us is one of us. The tribute to Keith and the police is that we are here today and that our proceedings are going on. We have the arch that was spoken about before, which is a lasting memorial to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our democracy. I hope that, at an appropriate time, following discussion with the family, we may be able to look at a lasting memorial to Keith, in order that each and every one of us will know that there are people putting their lives on the line for our democracy today.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank my hon. Friend, and I am sure the House authorities will wish to consider the point that he has made. If I may just reflect on his earlier remarks, it is a particular characteristic of policing in the United Kingdom that our police are able to have that link and that bond with members of the public, at the same time as they are doing the very difficult job of keeping us safe. We see it so often when major events take place—royal weddings, the Olympics and so forth—but my hon. Friend is absolutely right that we see it day in and day out here on the parliamentary estate.

Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union

As we mourn those who were so cruelly cut down yesterday, give our grateful thanks to the police and to the emergency and security services for their exemplary courage and devotion to duty, and show as a country, by our determination to carry on, that we will not be cowed, as the Prime Minister put it so eloquently, does she agree that we will need to show the same determination to stand up against anyone who seeks to sow division or to stir up hatred in the wake of these cowardly attacks?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. We must be very clear that the voices of evil and hate will not divide us; that should also be a clear message from this House today.

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Conservative, Braintree

While our hearts go to all those people who were wounded and murdered yesterday, and to all the people who sought to help them, I would like, with your indulgence, Mr Speaker, to turn for just a moment to PC Keith Palmer, whom I first met 25 years ago when he was Gunner Keith Palmer at headquarters battery, 100 Regiment Royal Artillery. He was a strong, professional public servant, and it was a delight to meet him here again only a few months after being elected. In recognition of the work that he did and that the other police officers and public servants in the House do, would my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister consider posthumously recognising his gallantry and sacrifice formally?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank my hon. Friend for not just the compassion but the passion with which he has spoken about an individual he knew, and he bears witness to the tremendous public service that Keith Palmer had given this country in so many ways, having served in our armed forces and then come to this place and made the ultimate sacrifice here, at the heart of our democracy. I can assure my hon. Friend that the issue he has raised will, of course, be considered in due course.

Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Health)

Yesterday, we saw absolutely the best of security, policing and the emergency services. We also saw the camaraderie that got people through the lockdown, when we had staff stuck in offices all over the estate. I make a small plea that people will take the bravery and determination of yesterday, but that they will also remember to talk among themselves and support their staff; and that instead of burying any feelings of fear from yesterday, they will let that out, so that there is absolutely no scar remnant within this place as we go forward.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Lady makes a very important point. It is all too easy for us to come to this Chamber to show our gratitude, rightly, for the bravery shown by those who protect us, but to forget that for all the staff who were caught up in this, it could have lasting impacts. I understand that there are moves afoot to ensure that, as I said in my statement, Members can access help and support for themselves and their staff, should they wish to do that. But, actually, just allowing people to talk about what happened is often the best remedy.

Photo of Byron Davies Byron Davies Conservative, Gower

I thank the Prime Minister for her statement this morning and for her message last night in Downing Street. As a former Metropolitan police officer, may I pass on my condolences personally to Constable Palmer’s family, and to the pedestrians and everybody who was involved yesterday?

As someone who served on the counter-terrorist command here in London in the 1980s, when the IRA, the Irish National Liberation Army and middle eastern groups were bombing London apart, I know only too well the challenge that is faced by the police. I know that the Prime Minister has already been asked about resourcing, but may I reinforce that point by asking her to ensure that in the area of counter-terrorism the Met police and all police forces, as well as the security forces in general, want for nothing?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I reassure my hon. Friend that through the refresh of the strategic defence and security review we did a major exercise in which we looked at the resources that should be available for all aspects of counter-terrorism. That is, of course, about the security and intelligence agencies and the police, but other parts of Government have a role to play in counter-terrorism as well. Extra resources are going in, as I indicated in my statement. Of course, we want to ensure that all who are involved in acting against terrorism have the support that they need to do the job that we want them to do.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

May I associate myself with the Prime Minister’s words and those of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition? Does the Prime Minister accept that this is not about our personal security, as Members of Parliament, or about the security of this building? PC Keith Palmer died defending the values of, as the Prime Minister put it, “free people everywhere”. Is not the proper response over the coming days, as more facts emerge, to stand firm for those self-same values of free people everywhere?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. As he says, it is not about individuals in this House or this building; it is about what we stand for, and we should stand absolutely firm for those values.

Photo of Shailesh Vara Shailesh Vara Conservative, North West Cambridgeshire

May I start by commending the Prime Minister for a very powerful speech, and particularly for the tone in which it was delivered? Yesterday, we saw an attack on this centre of democracy and on the citizens of 10 countries. The message that we need to take away from here is that not only is this evil ideology an attack on western countries and on the values that we hold so dear, but it seeks to destroy the way of life of people across the globe. I hope that the message will go out to all decent and civilised countries that we must all redouble our resolve to deal with this evil.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I have been struck by the number of messages I have received from a number of foreign leaders to whom I have spoken in which they have been absolutely clear that we stand together in defiance, as he says, but also in ensuring that we will defeat this evil.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

We recognise the immense bravery of all concerned yesterday, but should we not also recognise that, unfortunately, terror attacks are likely to continue for years to come and, needless to say, this country is not unique in Europe, let alone elsewhere, in having such onslaughts against us. Arising from what the Prime Minister said, may I just tell her that, during all the years of sustained IRA bombing, I as a Member of Parliament did not receive any letters at all or have anyone come to my surgery telling me that we should change our policy in combating terrorism? I have to say that illustrates once again that our people are simply not appeasers.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Gentleman is right. I believe the British public stand with this Parliament in wanting to see us in defiance of terrorists, defeating the terrorists and showing that the values of democracy and the rule of law—the values of free people everywhere—underpin our way of life. I think people recognise that, and they want to see this House endorse it.

Photo of Rehman Chishti Rehman Chishti Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham

I support all that the Prime Minister has said and done, and my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this evil act. The assistant police commissioner, Mr Rowley, said in 2016 that two people a day are being turned away from extremism, that it is often members of an individual’s own community who are alerting the authorities and that it is communities who defeat terrorism. May I ask the Prime Minister what further steps we are taking to engage with all our communities so that we can work together to defeat the non-violent extremism that often leads to violent extremism?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend is right that it is important we defeat such extremism and deal with it at that earlier stage. A lot of work is being done within communities and working with communities. Obviously, there is the work that the police do to encourage people within communities to come forward with information when it is possible to do so and they have such concerns. That is important: people need to have the confidence of feeling that they can do that. It is important to create the environment within communities where people who recognise there are those who are trying to destroy our way of life actually feel able to take action about it. My hon. Friend is right: bringing communities together is an important part of what the Government are doing on a number of fronts.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Labour)

May I thank the Prime Minister for her leadership at a bleak moment for our country? As the brave guardian of Parliament, Keith Palmer fought for his life yesterday; Mr Ellwood fought to save his life. May I say of the hon. Gentleman that he is one of Parliament’s finest?

In backing our police to defeat terrorism, does the Prime Minister believe we should heed their wise words that to demonise and divide is to play right into the hands of the evil that is terrorism?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

We should not be making any attempt to demonise individual communities. We should recognise that it is individuals who are terrorists, that they are adhering to a warped ideology—a warped ideology of evil—and that that is true whatever the origin of the terrorism, because there are different ideologies. This House has been struck before, as we know, and has felt terrorism of a different sort hitting a Member of this House. We must ensure that we do not demonise communities, but work with them to identify and to isolate those who wish to do us harm.

Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee

In the wake of yesterday’s evil, tragic, but unfortunately not wholly unexpected attack on this place, there will be a review, as the Prime Minister has said, of the response of our excellent police and security services. Does my right hon. Friend agree that in an open and free democracy such as ours there will always be a balance between our security, and public access to and the transparency of our democracy, and that if that balance is not maintained, unfortunately, the terrorists will have won?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that it is a balance. We live in an open and free democracy. We want members of the public to have access to their representatives and to this place, and for Members of this place to have easy access to it. That is part of how we operate. It is important, as we look ahead and ask whether anything more needs to be done, to recognise that we should not in any way destroy the values that underpin our democracy, because if we do that, as he says, the terrorists will have won.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

For the first time in this House, I want to agree with everything that has been said by every Member who has spoken so far. May I add thanks to two more groups of people who have not yet been mentioned: the staff at Westminster Abbey who received people who left this House; and the firearms officer who acted in a way that he had been trained to, but probably never expected to? We owe him our thanks.

The Prime Minister knows better than any of us that this sort of attack—it looks like a lone-wolf kind of attack—is the hardest for our security services to prevent. Its prevention, as her remarks have made clear, is best achieved by our celebrating our values—the values that meant that among the victims, there were people of 11 different nationalities—our openness and our democracy. What can she do to help to ensure that everybody in Britain—every child and everyone of every religion—is given the opportunity to learn about those values and celebrate them, because I think that is the best way to keep us safe in future?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I join the right hon. Lady in commending the staff of Westminster Abbey, who played a role in supporting people from Parliament yesterday, and the firearms officer, who had to make a split-second decision about what to do. It is not an easy job; it is difficult. Officers are trained to do it, but when the point comes, it is a difficult decision to take. We are grateful that he did that, with the consequences that we know about.

It is important that we celebrate our values. An important element in countering the extremists is to ensure that the values that we share are championed and resolutely put forward. The right hon. Lady asked what I would do, but it is for everybody in this House, as we go about our business as Members of Parliament, to encourage that celebration of the values that we share.

Photo of Richard Drax Richard Drax Conservative, South Dorset

May I commend my right hon. Friend for the resolute, brave and courageous way she has stood up for our country and say how proud we are of her? Does she agree that one terrorist will not destroy our country, 10 terrorists will not destroy our country and 10,000 terrorists will not destroy our country—in fact, no amount of terrorists will ever destroy our way of life, because they are just trying to destroy what we in this place represent: freedom and democracy?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Terrorism will not destroy our way of life; it will not win. We uphold those values of freedom and democracy; they underpin our way of life. They are what the terrorists are trying to attack and they are what the terrorists dislike, but we must ensure that we uphold those values. As he says, no number of terrorists will defeat this place or defeat those values.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South

PC Keith Palmer did not return home from work yesterday to his family so that the rest of us in this House could. We should never forget that sacrifice, and every single day we should pass our thanks to the staff and security of this House and the emergency services. Will the Prime Minister join me in cherishing what happened here yesterday when staff who were terrified and frightened came together and all supported each other? That, in itself, is a way to say to terrorism that it will never win.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman. As he says, the way that people came together, showed that camaraderie and supported each other at a difficult and uncertain time for individuals in the parliamentary estate was a very important message to the terrorists.

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole

It is reported that what happened yesterday was an act of Islamic terror. Does the Prime Minister agree that what happened was not Islamic, just as the murder of Airey Neave was not Christian, and that both were perversions of religion?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely agree. It is wrong to describe what happened as Islamic terrorism; it is Islamist terrorism—a perversion of a great faith.

Photo of Tom Elliott Tom Elliott UUP, Fermanagh and South Tyrone

I pay tribute to the Prime Minister and wish her and her Cabinet well in their deliberations as we move forward. I echo everything that has been said about those who were killed, their families and the other victims. Will the Prime Minister ensure that every effort is made to support the victims and families, and the police officer whose role was to stop the terrorist in the end?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I assure the hon. Gentleman that that support will be available. Of course, the Metropolitan police already have in place the necessary support arrangements for those who have been injured and the bereaved families. I have also asked the Government to look at what further support can be made available for victims in a wider sense, because there will be people who were not physically injured in the attack yesterday, but witnessed it or were caught up in it, for whom there may be other scars. It is important to provide that support.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

Parliament is a different place this morning. On my way in from the tube, I realised that millions of people live with the after-effects of terrorism. At almost this time yesterday, in my summing up of a Westminster Hall debate, I said of the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend Mr Ellwood:

“I understand that his experience of terrorism is something that is not known to the rest of us”.— Official Report, 22 March 2017;
Vol. 623, c. 360WH.]

I could certainly repeat that assertion this morning about his experience yesterday afternoon. Does the Prime Minister agree that we should use the honours system to recognise those who made a contribution yesterday, including my hon. Friend?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

As I indicated earlier, proper consideration will be given to the issue that my hon. Friend raises. I spoke to my hon. Friend Mr Ellwood yesterday evening, and we should all recognise not only that he showed huge professionalism in putting his past training to use in the hope of saving PC Keith Palmer’s life, but that he did so in the middle of a terrorist attack, and he is someone who knows the trauma and tragedy of losing somebody in a terrorist attack.

Photo of Hannah Bardell Hannah Bardell Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Business, Innovation and Skills)

I very much associate myself with the Prime Minister’s statement and everyone’s comments, and I pay tribute to all those involved. We are thinking of the victims and their families. I am the sister of a police officer in uniform, and when police officers go out of the front door in the morning, none of us really knows what they will face. Yesterday hit all of us and was particularly hard for those of us who have family in uniform. I am pleased to hear that the Prime Minister will give all the support she can to the victims, their families and all those who were affected.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Lady speaks well on this. When I was Home Secretary, two events always brought home to me the commitment, bravery and dedication of police officers. One was the National Police Memorial Day service, when the police recognise those who have fallen, and the other was the police bravery awards, where groups of police officers are recognised for brave acts that they have undertaken. What always struck me—and, I am sure, other hon. Members who have been at that ceremony—was the matter-of-fact way in which our police officers, whatever they had done, whomever they had dealt with and whatever injuries they had suffered, would say that they were just doing their job. We owe them a great deal.

Photo of George Freeman George Freeman Conservative, Mid Norfolk

I thank the Prime Minister for the tone with which she has reacted. She has genuinely spoken for the nation in this moment. Yesterday, many of us from the House were gathered in Westminster Abbey, in lockdown. In a stunning moment, people from left and right, of the Muslim, Hindu, and Christian faiths and of none, gathered in Westminster Abbey, in sanctuary, surrounded by luminaries of our political past, of left and right. I support others who reminded us today that what happened was not an act of faith, but the distortion of faith and that, in the strength of all our faiths coming together in this country, we will defend the values we cherish.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That shows the importance of all our faiths working together, recognising the values we share. As he says, this act of terror was not an act of faith. A perversion—a warped ideology—leads to such acts of terrorism, and it will not prevail.

Photo of Khalid Mahmood Khalid Mahmood Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) (Europe)

My prayers are with all those who were injured, with all those who lost their lives and their families, and particularly with PC Keith Palmer, who made the ultimate sacrifice. This attacker and people like him are not of my religion, nor are they of our community. We should condemn all who pretend to be of a religion when they are not, because if they were of a religion, they would not be carrying out acts like this one. We have to stay united, and show them that they cannot win on these grounds and that we are here to stay.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I commend the hon. Gentleman for the comments he has just made and for the stance he has consistently taken on terrorism. He has been very clear that, as he says, this is not of his religion. A perversion and a warped, evil mentality leads to these acts of terror.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

I join hon. Members in saluting my fellow Dorset county Member, my hon. Friend Mr Ellwood, for his quiet bravery yesterday. It is a hallmark of his character that he stands below the Bar of the House today.

Does my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister agree with these words, which were written by a worker on the London underground yesterday afternoon? They were penned on a public notice board shortly after the events. My judgment is that he or she spoke for the whole country, irrespective of faith or creed, when they wrote: “All terrorists are politely reminded that this is London, and whatever you do to us, we will drink tea and jolly well carry on.”

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I think that is a wonderful tribute. In a very simple way, it encapsulates everything hon. Members in the House have said today.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

Like many Members, in the 16 years I have been a Member, I have walked every day through Carriage Gates and said a small prayer for the safety of those who stand there to protect us. From now on, I will add a prayer for the soul of PC Keith Palmer.

Among the bravery and professionalism we saw yesterday—I say this a former teacher who took children on many school trips—were the actions of the teachers, both those injured in the attack and those who were in the House during the lockdown, who kept the children educated, entertained and calm, on a day and on a school trip when they saw, witnessed and heard of things that they should never have to see.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. It must have been particularly difficult for those children who were here and caught up in this. We should commend the work of their teachers in offering that reassurance and calm. We must particularly recognise the role of the French teachers of the French group. The last thing people expect when they bring a group of young people to visit another country is something terrible like that happening. They will have acted to support the other members of that group who went through that trauma, and will continue to do so.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Conservative, Macclesfield

As we were evacuated from the House yesterday, I too met several stoical school groups, who had been involved with visits organised by the parliamentary education service. Does my right hon. Friend agree that such visits, as promoted by you, Mr Speaker, are vital and help to provide an antidote to hatred and intolerance?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely agree. Those visits are also important in helping to promote the values we share. Fiona Mactaggart asked earlier how we can ensure that we are promoting those values. The work that Parliament does by bringing in schoolchildren and showing them the work of Parliament and the values of our democracy is an important part of that.

Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow

My thoughts are with PC Palmer’s family and the families of all the victims of yesterday’s terrorist attacks. We are so grateful to the emergency services, and everyone who protected us and the wider public.

The Prime Minister speaks for the whole country in her message of unity, but does she agree that the painstaking work begins now, in the days ahead, for all hon. Members in our constituencies in providing reassurance and maintaining that unity? It is in the days after such events that we must be vigilant against those who try to exploit attacks and cause backlashes and intolerance against different communities. Does she also agree that the role of the media is critical in ensuring that we maintain our resilience, and that sense of defiance and solidarity?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Lady is right. There is an immediate focus on the event that has taken place, but, as she says, it is in the days afterwards that some may try to sow division and hatred in our communities. We all have a role to play in ensuring that does not happen.

Photo of Lisa Cameron Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Climate Justice)

I thank the Prime Minister for her statement and offer my condolences to all affected. I am from an armed forces family, so I know that at these times it is all the more important to show our resolve. I also hope that we will continue to support all those affected, because although trauma may not have an impact straight away, it can have long-term impacts and effects. We must reach out in compassion, for that is what sets us apart from terrorists.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Lady makes a very good point. Sadly, over time with a number of incidents we have come to learn more about the importance of providing that support. It is not just about an immediate reaction. For some, the impact of an attack can kick in quite a while later, which is why we are looking at the support available for victims.

Photo of Graham Evans Graham Evans Conservative, Weaver Vale

I commend my right hon. Friend’s statement. I hope she agrees with me that Great Britain’s police force is the greatest in the world. For those of us who have served as police officers, I pay tribute to PC Keith Palmer who stood serving and protecting this House unarmed when duty called. He went towards the face of evil and made the ultimate sacrifice. Lone wolf terrorist attacks are notoriously difficult to defend. What, if anything, can be done to make sure this kind of event does not happen again?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

In terms of protective security, work will be done with the parliamentary estate to see if anything more needs to be done. The best way to defeat the terrorists is through intelligence—finding out information about the potential for attacks in advance and then preventing them. As I said in my statement, since June 2013, 13 terrorist plots have been disrupted in this country. That is due to the hard work of our police, security and intelligence agencies. They work day in, day out to keep us safe and they will continue to do so.

Photo of Jonathan Reynolds Jonathan Reynolds Shadow Economic Secretary (Treasury)

I think everyone who works on the parliamentary estate has at some point considered what they would do if a day like yesterday ever happened, but for those of us who work alongside our families on site it is of particular concern. Will the Prime Minister join me in saying a specific word of praise for the staff at the House of Commons nursery for their actions yesterday? Many of us can attest to the fact that looking after just one toddler in a confined space for a number of hours is not easy, but yesterday they looked after all the children in very difficult circumstances, all the time keeping in touch with some very worried parents. I was in the nursery during the lockdown. Their courage, care and steadfastness was exemplary and much appreciated.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am very happy to join the hon. Gentleman in commending the work of the nursery staff. It must have been particularly difficult with very young children in what was an uncertain and difficult circumstance. I am sure they did an excellent job and I am happy to join him in commending their work.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development)

I join all the tributes that have been paid. I think those of us who were locked down in the Chamber will also want to pay particular tribute to Mr Deputy Speaker, the Chairman of Ways and Means, and to the Leader of the House for keeping calm and carrying on, and keeping us informed about what was going on. I also pay tribute to the Hansard reporters who kept democracy going and reported, three hours after the business had finished, the live recording of the proceedings up to the Adjournment of the House. That is a tribute to the continuity of our democracy.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Yes, indeed. I join the hon. Gentleman in commending the actions of both the Chairman of Ways and Means and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House yesterday. Very calmly, they were able to reassure Members of this House at a time when nobody knew everything about what was happening and only very limited information was available.

Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Labour, Leeds West

Yesterday showed us the worst of humanity, but it also showed us—much, much more—the best of humanity in the actions of Mr Ellwood, PC Palmer, and the firearms officer who shot down the person who wanted to terrorise all of us, our country and our democracy.

I have been touched by the number of people from my constituency—of Christian faith, of Jewish faith, of Muslim faith, and of no faith—who have contacted me in the last two days. I pay particular tribute to the chairman of the mosque in Leeds, who contacted me to say that his thoughts and prayers, and those of all members of the Muslim community in Leeds, were with all of us at this difficult time. There will be prayers in mosques, synagogues and churches across our country in the days ahead.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I join the hon. Lady in that. I think that all faith communities in the country will be coming together and, as she has said, will be remembering those who have suffered as a result of the attacks. In their coming together they will be showing again that they represent the values about which we have talked, and which are so important to our way of life.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda

The Prime Minister has been exemplary in this instance, as, indeed, she was in relation to Hillsborough, in my view. I congratulate her on that.

Mr Evans was absolutely right when he said that Keith was one of us. One of the things that we saw yesterday was that the parliamentary family is a very big family: it includes cooks, cleaners, Clerks, Doorkeepers, and all sorts of people who make our democracy function and who are, in many ways, far more important than we are.

When a Member of Parliament dies in action or is killed in a terrorist incident, as Ian Gow and Airey Neave were, a shield is put up in the Chamber, and I hope that—sadly—there will soon be one for Jo Cox. Surely, whatever other tributes and medals there may be in the future, it is time for Keith to have a shield here, because he was our shield and defender yesterday.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The bravery shown by PC Keith Palmer and his act of sacrifice should be recognised in an appropriate way, but as the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, what that should be is a matter for the House authorities.

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey Conservative, Wells

Yesterday, on Westminster Bridge and in New Palace Yard, many members of the public and Members of the House attempted to give life-saving aid to those who had been injured. Since then many of us will have asked ourselves whether we would have had the same skills had we been in close proximity to deliver that aid. Will the Prime Minister join me in encouraging those who now seek to acquire such skills to do so, and perhaps to contact their local branch of St John Ambulance with a view to taking lessons?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend has made an important and very good point, and I join him in that encouragement. The vast majority of Members of the House would probably not have had the skills that would have enabled them to act in that way, and it is a very good message that perhaps more of us should go out and acquire those skills.

Photo of John Woodcock John Woodcock Labour/Co-operative, Barrow and Furness

A key aim of any terrorist is to exploit the completely natural and inevitable sense of public interest, grief and sympathy in order to sow disunity, disruption and fear beyond the physical act of terror itself. May I ask the Prime Minister to build on her commendable words about the resolution of the British people? Does she think that we should also take time to reflect, both in the Chamber and outside—and that includes the media—on how we can balance the public interest and people’s feelings of grief with seeking not to give the oxygen of publicity to whatever cause a terrorist seeks to promote?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The question of the oxygen of publicity is obviously important, and I think we should all reflect on the point that the hon. Gentleman has made. He referred to the actions of the media. We have talked about a number of people who were caught up in what happened yesterday, but we should not forget that many journalists were caught up too, either on the periphery of the parliamentary estate or within the estate, and continued to do their best to do their job in reporting faithfully what was happening. However, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that how these matters are addressed and reported is an important consideration. We want to ensure that it is not possible for people to use such actions either to encourage others or to try to sow division.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

I would like to add my words of condolence and gratitude to those already so eloquently expressed. Yesterday, two of my constituents were caught up in the attacks, one of whom was eight months’ pregnant, and they have asked me to pass on their gratitude and thanks to the House staff and the police for the consideration with which they were treated during the five-hour lockdown.

Does the Prime Minister agree that, just as we continue to go about our daily work, so those whom we represent must continue to see this House as their House, and must be encouraged to come here to see, and participate in, the democracy which puts our values into action?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

That is an important point: it is part of our democracy that members of the public—the constituents we represent—are able to come to this place and to learn about this place, and are also able to access their elected representatives at this place. We should ensure that that will always continue.

Photo of Tulip Siddiq Tulip Siddiq Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn

My hon. Friend Chi Onwurah mentioned the House of Commons staff, who showed exemplary behaviour in the face of adversity yesterday. I want to pay particular tribute to the nursery manager, Anjali, who was very reassuring and calm in dealing with the nervous parents who had very small babies on site. This was every parent’s worst nightmare, and Anjali and her colleagues stayed calm under a terrorist attack.

May I add that people who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam do not speak for the Muslims in this country, do not speak for the Muslims in this city, and certainly do not speak for me.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her words, and, again, for the warm way in which she has spoken of the action of members of the House of Commons staff who were looking after the small children in the nursery. She is absolutely right: the terrorists do not speak in the name of a faith; they have a warped ideology.

Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Labour, Chesterfield

The murderer who used both his car and a knife as indiscriminate weapons of murder yesterday cared not what the faith was of the people he killed, or about their nationality. Does it not say everything about why our values will prevail and the values of murder will not that, after the police had shot him, they attempted to save his life?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

It absolutely does show the values that underpin our way of life that the police’s first thought then was to try to save that individual’s life, and that is what the police do; it is what they have done in previous incidents as well. As the hon. Gentleman says, that shows the values that are at the heart of our society.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Equality)

I commend the Prime Minister on her strength of character and leadership at this time: cometh the hour, cometh the woman. We thank you, Prime Minister—God will bless you, and all that you do.

We are all aware of the policy review that will take place. It will make recommendations for enhancements, and may I ask for an assurance that they will be conveyed to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly, and, further, that there will be co-operation on this with the Republic of Ireland, which is very important for us in Northern Ireland, so that security is enhanced and strengthened?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. Obviously, it is important that any lessons learned here on this parliamentary estate are shared with the other representative Parliaments and Assemblies across the United Kingdom.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Substitute Member)

This morning I spoke with the imam of Swansea University mosque, Sheikh Mohsen, who wanted to share his deepest sorrow, shock and condolences with the family of Keith Palmer and all the bereaved families, and to say that Islam is of course the Arabic word for peace and that these acts were not carried out in the name of Islam. Extremists, whether Islamic fundamentalists or right-wing terrorists, are trying to divide our communities and we should stand united, shoulder to shoulder, against all terror. Will the Prime Minister send a message to Muslims in Swansea and throughout Britain that we will stand shoulder to shoulder to defend our shared values—our freedoms, our democracies, our human rights—in a land and a community that we all share?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

This act of terror was not done in the name of a religion; it was done, as I said earlier, as a result of a warped ideology. All acts of terror are evil acts underpinned by warped ideologies of different sorts, but whatever the ideology, it is an attempt to divide us and to destroy our way of life that drives the evil acts of the terrorists. We stand together with the Muslim community and with other communities around this country and say that what unites us is greater than what divides us. We must be very clear that we share the values of democracy, of the rule of law and of freedom. These are what make the society in which we all live.