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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:32 pm, 21st June 2017

I am sure that the whole House will want to join me in sending our very best wishes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, following the news that he has been admitted to hospital. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty the Queen and the whole royal family, and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Let me also join the Leader of the Opposition in condemning the appalling terrorist attack in his constituency earlier this week. I pay tribute to the work he did through the night with his constituents on Sunday. I know that the thoughts and prayers of the whole House are with the family and friends of the victim who died and all those who were injured. I am sure that the House will want to pay tribute to the police and the emergency services for once again responding with the extraordinary professionalism and courage that makes our whole country so proud of them. This was the fourth terrorist attack on our country in three months, following the attacks here in Westminster, in Manchester and at London Bridge. This time it was an attack on British Muslims as they left their place of worship at a sacred time of year. It was a brutal and sickening reminder that terrorism, extremism and hatred can take many forms, and that our determination to tackle them must be the same whoever is responsible. This Queen’s Speech takes important steps in helping us to do so.

We will review our counter-terrorism strategy to ensure that the police and security services have all the powers that they need, and that the lengths of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences are sufficient to keep people safe. We will work to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning, and encourage tech companies to do more to remove harmful content from their networks. We will establish a new commission for countering extremism as a statutory body to help to fight hatred and extremism in the same way as we have fought racism, because this extremism is every bit as insidious and destructive to our families, and we will stop at nothing to defeat it.

I hope that, whatever our disagreements, we can all at least welcome the focus in the Queen’s Speech on stamping out extremist and hateful ideology of any kind, including Islamophobia. Like all terrorism in whatever form, Monday’s attack sought to drive us apart and to break the precious bonds of solidarity and citizenship that we share in this country. Our response must be to stand together more strongly than ever to show that hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed, and that our values and our way of life will always prevail.