rose to move, That this House takes note of further developments in international terrorism.
My Lords, when we last met, this House expressed its heartfelt horror and revulsion at what had happened only three days earlier in the United States. I am sure that today the grief, shock and disgust remain as strong. I am sure, too, that noble Lords will wish to discuss how we in this country and as a part of the international community can bend every sinew to ensure that those who are responsible are brought to account and that we do everything within our power to prevent such an atrocity from happening again. We look forward in particular to the maiden speeches of my noble and learned friend Lord Morris of Aberavon and my noble friends Lord Campbell-Savours and Lord Temple-Morris.
This time yesterday morning I had just got off a plane from New York. After a weekend flying to other countries as the Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the United States, I have this week seen for myself the reality of a city--a very great city--struggling to come to terms with the appalling atrocities of the terrorist attacks on 11th September.
Like many Members of this House, and like many people from Britain and around the world, I feel a strong connection to New York. Maybe it is because it is in some senses the ultimate city. It has been photographed many thousands of times in the cinema and in images that sum up at once both the essence of America and the skyscraper pinnacle of modern life. My own connection, like that of many others, is personal. When I had finished my degree at university I worked for a while in a merchant bank on Wall Street. I came to know and love New York--its vibrancy and noise, its swirl of movement and the sense of being at the centre of things.
New York this week was different. It was a quieter city--it was more subdued. It was a city in which, instead of the usual cacophony of traffic and car horns, there was a different sense: a sense of hurt, damage, suffering and sheer sadness. That was not found just at Ground Zero, at the site where the World Trade Centre stood just four weeks ago; there was sadness all over the city because a hurt to one is a hurt to all.
This hurt to America is indeed a hurt to all of us. But it goes further. This week I saw that the city of New York is not prepared to let these attacks succeed. New York is indeed pulling its community together in response to the attacks. I believe that this reaction is the response of all of us. Just as the attacks affected everyone, so too is everyone brought together by our response to them.
When the terrorists flew those hijacked planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, into the Pentagon, and--were it not for the incredible bravery of those extraordinary people on the fourth plane who took on their hijackers, who knows where else would have suffered?--they were not merely attacking a building or a group of people--savage and heartless though that was. No. They were specifically and deliberately attacking something else too. They were attacking ideas--ideas which are at the heart of what we all stand for. They were attacking ideas about freedom: freedom of opportunity; freedom of speech; freedom from oppression; and freedom of trade.
That is why we all stand shoulder to shoulder now with the United States. The attacks on America were, as we have said, an attack on all of us in the world community. That is why the world community has been so sure, so united, in its determination to come together as a community to tackle the clear and present danger from international terrorism. In terms of responding to terrorism, our nation's self-interest and our world's mutual interest are now as one.
Our objectives in dealing with terrorism are clear. Primarily they are twofold: to take action against Osama bin Laden and his associates and against those who harbour them, in a proportionate and targeted response to the vileness of the attacks of 11th September; and, beyond that, to take action to dismantle the apparatus and the mechanism of international terrorism, so that we all--wherever we are in the world--can feel safe and secure again.
We are already engaged on the second of those objectives. We are taking action at every level: first, in the UN, with a clear and binding declaration on all countries to act against the terrorists and all who give them sanctuary and support; and then this week, with Resolution UNSCR 1373, imposing obligations on all member states to respond to a global threat to international peace and security; and in particular in regard to the safe havens for terrorists and in regard to their finances--which is an enormously important part, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, made clear. In NATO there has been a determination, stated fully this week, to make real its core principle that an attack on one is an attack upon us all. In the EU there are pan-European measures to tackle money laundering and other means by which terrorists sustain themselves. And here in Britain the Government have been urgently looking at ideas to make sure that Britain is not a safe place for terrorists to be--but that Britain is a safe place to be against the threat from terrorists.
The Home Secretary has made clear that measures are being worked on by the Home Office as part of the Government's legislative response to terrorism. Those include making it an offence for financial institutions not to report transactions which they know or suspect to be involved in terrorist activity--a very important point. The measures include giving law enforcement agencies full access to passenger and freight information, which air and sea carriers will be required to retain. They include widening the law on incitement to include religious hatred as well as racial hatred and amending the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to ensure that those who are suspected or convicted of terrorist involvement cannot be considered for asylum.
There can be no compromise with terrorists. There can be no negotiation. There is no meeting of minds. There is instead a clear choice: to defeat terrorism or to be defeated by it.
We are asked how we know who is responsible. The Prime Minister's Statement which was repeated by my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House assured your Lordships that we shall put as much evidence forward as possible. I am sure that all noble Lords will understand that we cannot give details of intelligence information. We cannot reveal information which would compromise our sources, undermine national security or threaten the safety or effectiveness of our Armed Forces. As the Statement made clear, the Government are in no doubt as to who planned and organised this atrocity. We are in no doubt as to who organised the training of those who carried it out.
My right honourable friend the Prime Minister could not have been clearer, he could not have spoken more for us all, when he spelt out this week the message to the Taliban: surrender the terrorists, or surrender power. That is their choice.
But this is emphatically not a fight with the people of Afghanistan. No one understands better than the Afghan people the terrible human suffering caused by the policies of the Taliban regime: the unrelenting civil war; the failure to allow aid to relieve the worst drought in living memory; the starvation of children; the total lack of freedom for women; the isolation from the rest of the world.
That is why in helping to forge a coalition to defeat terror, Britain is working hard to forge a coalition of equal importance: a humanitarian coalition to help the Afghan people now, in the current crisis, and, as importantly, in the future, in rebuilding their economy, their country and their lives.
Just as we are taking action against the threat and the reality of international terrorism, so too we are attaching equal priority to addressing the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people in rebuilding their country. Since the events of 11th September, we are providing an extra £36 million in aid for the region--on top of the £32 million given since 1997. That aid will mean food, water and blankets--it will also mean hope for the refugees.
We want to work with all responsible Afghans to bring peace to their country and to help set it on the path to stable development. Afghanistan does not need Osama bin Laden; it does not need the Taliban; and it certainly does not need terrorism. It needs irrigation and agriculture. Afghanistan needs to be able to put food in its children's stomachs. It needs schools, hospitals, roads, and a real future.
Afghanistan and its people have been ill served by those who have made their country a centre for terrorism across the world. It is also a centre for drugs. The two are inextricably linked: buying drugs here, on our streets, and funding terrorism there, in the training camps. Illicit drugs doubled in Afghanistan in the three years after the Taliban took power. We calculate that over 90 per cent of the heroin on our own streets originates from Afghanistan.
I want to say a word about the international coalition. When my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary visited Iran, he discussed how we should work together on a crisis that threatens the Muslim world every bit as much as it threatens the West. He discussed with president Khatami and the Iranian Government how our two countries can work together to help the refugees who are already seeking shelter in Afghanistan. Many profound difficulties still exist in our bilateral relationship with Iran. But we must, in the current circumstances, build on what we have in common, without glossing over those differences.
Let us be clear that the evils of Osama bin Laden and the Al'Qaeda are sanctioned by no faith. When the Foreign Secretary visited Egypt, that message was reinforced by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar--the spiritual leader of the Sunni Muslims. He said that the terror attacks went completely against the teachings of Islam. The Saudi Grand Mufti also condemned the attacks on 15th September. So also have the Muslim Council of Great Britain and many others. So let there be no doubt: Muslim leaders, secular and religious, have indeed condemned the attacks, and they have done so fully and unequivocally.
At home and abroad, this Government will continue to emphasise that this war against terrorism is not a war against Islam. Muslim states are among those leading international political and diplomatic efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks. Of course, I include in that Pakistan, and we applaud in particular the courage of General Musharraf at what is an especially difficult time.
Our recent contacts with leaders in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as furthering our efforts to build an international consensus against terrorism, have enabled us to press them to do all that they can to contribute to the search for peace in the region. Few parts of the world have suffered more from terrorism than the Middle East. When my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary spoke last week to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, about the latest moves for peace, he stressed how determined Britain is to help the two sides reach a lasting and just settlement.
We must reinvigorate the peace process. Our priority now is to see the recent dialogue between Mr Arafat and the Israeli Foreign Minister, Peres, develop into a sustained contact. Indeed, swift and full implementation of the Mitchell recommendations is needed. The parties must take rapid steps to ensure that their commitments are turned into reality on the ground. The continuing violence--indeed, the violence of the past 24 hours--serves only to make clear that both sides must now redouble their efforts to enforce the ceasefire.
Peace with security can come only through a political process which allows the emergence of a viable, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state, committed to co-existence with Israel and recognised and respected by Israel. For its part, Israel must be given recognition by all, its people freed from terror and its part in the future of the Middle East fully accepted.
We stand at a daunting point for our country and for our world--indeed, for our values. Difficult though the prospect is, I am sure that this House believes that our country will not falter in what we now have to do, because, of course, we may well see military action. If we do--as I am sure the whole House knows, and I certainly know as a former Defence Minister--our Armed Forces will acquit themselves well. They are second to none as fighting forces. At this difficult moment, we can be confident in their capabilities, commitment and courage. In what we ask them to do for us all, we can be proud that we know what their answer will be.
I am sure that there will be many questions about what action may be involved. No one can or should answer those questions with any precision at this stage, because to do so would undermine the very effectiveness of the tasks with which we may be entrusting our servicemen and women. However, let me assure the House that if we do engage in military action, we will do everything that we can to avoid civilian casualties. Our enemy is not the people of Afghanistan, or the real followers of Islam. I believe that the last three weeks have shown beyond doubt that everyone involved in this fight against terrorism is determined to proceed with care and deliberation.
New York, Washington and America are showing that such a force for evil can indeed be turned into a force for good. The extraordinary unanimity of the world community is showing us that the world is drawing together to make sure that good can and will come out of evil. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, for the tribute that he paid to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, who from the first moment of this disaster has worked so tirelessly to forge and sustain that coalition. I also echo what the noble Lord said about President George W. Bush. America, too, has a leader who is responding to his country's most momentous challenge in modern history. In Mayor Rudi Giuliani, New York has found someone who has been steadfast, who has in the past three weeks never lost either his nerve or his compassion, and who has been able to articulate not only the pain and anguish of his city and his country, but its hopes and determination for the future.
Your Lordships may be interested to know that we have long planned for the end of this month an event called "UK in New York". Now we have renamed it "UK with New York". Many of us will take part in the celebrations in the city of our country's cultural, economic and trading ties with America. All of us here pay tribute to the resilience of New Yorkers, to those who have lost loved ones and are trying to rebuild their normal lives and, of course, especially to those in the fire, medical and emergency services who gave up their lives in trying to save others.
My noble friend Lady Amos and I want also to pay tribute to the incredible work that has been done since 11th September by British Government staff there. Tom Harris, the British Consul General, his deputy Duncan Taylor and all their team--every single one of them--have performed magnificently in most difficult circumstances.
We now look ahead to the fight against terrorism. We know that it will be long and hard. We will have to deploy all the tools available--military, economic, diplomatic and legislative. We must do our utmost to prevent further such attacks. The international consensus against terrorism is widespread and growing. As the Leader of the House has been able to tell us, the Prime Minister will again be travelling to ensure that he does everything in his power to bring that consensus together. We will proceed with deliberation and with care. Counter-terrorism is at the top of our agenda. It is the overriding priority for our country and the world community.
One of the most telling images of the terrible sights that followed 11th September was that of the emergency and rescue workers raising their country's flag above the rubble of what, only a few days before, had been a symbol of modern America and modern civilisation. It is our job now, the job of all of us, also to raise the flag--the flag of justice, of democracy and of freedom--because our values and beliefs are right. Decency, compassion, fairness and justice are our ideals; those are what we are fighting for. Out of this evil, good must come.
Moved, That this House takes note of recent developments in international terrorism.--(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean.)
My Lords, more than three weeks after the atrocities, the grieving continues and grows even more intense as the horror sinks in, as the noble Baroness eloquently described. However, I think that she and your Lordships would agree that the passage of three weeks also allows us to make a little more sober analysis of the full implications of what happened, and to begin to shape a longer-term strategy to deal with this terrorist-ridden world and the new threats to everyone. It is no criticism whatever of the Government, whose actions we totally support, when I say that, despite clear indications of the immediate objectives, despite the excellent speech that we have just heard and despite the Prime Minister's eloquent venting of aspirations that we all share, it is not yet entirely clear--indeed, it could not be, such are the great uncertainties with which we are dealing--how we shape our longer-term response; how we change our lives, policies and approaches to the world after the atrocities of 11th September.
I want briefly, at the beginning of what will be a long and no doubt well-informed debate, to offer two starting points for consideration of that longer-term scene and how we build on immediate events. The first is one on which there is no disagreement: simply, there will be no knock-out punch; no immediate settling of scores; no quick fix. I am afraid that there will be nothing to bring joy to the CNN cameramen and the other media people who long for some spectacular event to put on screen and who, in the absence of such an event, to describe events that have not happened. They set out dramatic, heroic scenes of how this or that special force might raid this or that lair and throw bombs in this or that direction.
None of that will happen. Indeed, I hope that whatever happens will be kept secret. I accept the view of the noble Baroness that, as a democracy, we do not wish to know the full details, the intelligence and the minutiae of future plans. Too much disclosure will help the enemy. We have heard clearly this morning, both in the Statement of the noble and learned Lord and in the speech of the noble Baroness, about the immediate objectives. As I understand it, the first objective is to "topple" the Taliban. Some are now talking of replacing the Taliban with a "moderate" Taliban rather than with any coalition with the Northern Alliance, which has its own faults and problems and is not exactly unified. That may succeed. It will require both politics and internal pressures and will be extremely complex. I am not sure who the more moderate Taliban are; whether they are more acceptable to Islamabad and the Pakistan Government. However, that appears to be the intention, otherwise there would be a hopeless vacuum.
The other more spectacular intention, declared on all sides, is to capture the monster Osama bin Laden. I hope that that can be done. I understand he is now in a Russian-built anti-nuclear bunker somewhere on the borders of Tajikistan, or may even have fled from there. However, he will have to be winkled out before the winter because when the winter comes those sorts of ground operations will be impossible. We hope and pray that that succeeds and that he is brought to justice.
But when those immediate objectives have been achieved, we will all have to take a deep breath and realise that we are dealing not just with one poor organisation; not just with one country. Al'Qaeda is a world-wide network; it is not a pyramid hierarchy. It is drug-financed. It extends its tentacles throughout the world and I have no doubt it has been planning many other atrocities, including those in New York and Washington, for a long time.
We learn that the New York horrors were in the pipeline for possibly three or four years. Something planned one or two years ago may now be in the pipeline. We must be realistic. If these things are to be stopped in their tracks, then the campaign has to be fought on far wider fronts than military events and things that can be filmed for the television news in the evenings. We have to deal with a vast variety of operations.
In that regard I agree that cutting off the oxygen of finance is absolutely crucial. I am glad we are freezing all accounts in this country. I shall be interested to hear what we can do to assist others in freezing the whole so-called "Havala" network of funds which circulate around the Middle East. Much of it comes from people who are part of the coalition and who we need as friends. Much of it comes out of Saudi Arabia in enormous quantities.
As the Leader of the House rightly said, the sums involved are far bigger than the mere millions about which we have heard. The total drug turnover of the world is estimated to be between £500 billion and £600 billion. Afghanistan and the surrounding countries are presently the centre of at least half that trade. So we are talking about billions flowing through the monetary network and they must be cut off before the next horror visits us.
That is my first point. My second point is also a slightly gloomy one, though I hope to come to a more positive note. We are living against the background of a rising terrorist trend. RAND estimated that in the 1990s there were more than three times as many terrorist incidents and civilians killed than in the 1980s and the 1970s. Things are swinging the terrorist way. Conditions are getting easier for the terrorist. The New York Trade Centre event was new in the sense of the magnitude; but the trend is established and it is deep and sinister.
We knew long before 11th September that tiny cells could destroy great structures with increasing ease, for two reasons. One is that the weaponry is now miniaturised and it is much easier to kill people in large numbers. Indeed, in a way the weaponry has become simpler. As someone pointed out, 6,000 deaths were caused on 11th September with the use of a Stanley knife, or a Swiss army penknife. That level of horror was achieved with a simple piece of weaponry, though obviously there was vast planning behind it.
The second reason is that our society is now much more vulnerable than it was 50, 30 or even 10 years ago. It is also more complex and therefore contains more nerve centres and points at which a terrorist can aim with deadly effect in terms of lives of civilians in massive numbers.
Against that background of the grim reality that we live in an age particularly encouraging, post-Cold War, to terrorism, and particularly easy for terrorists, what should be the main elements of our strategy? The Government and Ministers pointed to some, but perhaps I may add a small list which I hope will be of some help.
First, I totally agree--I have heard no disagreement anywhere--with the Government's insistence on condemning utterly the attempt to arouse religious hatred and incitement and to depict what we are dealing with as a clash between one religion and another; between Christianity and Islam. As the Prime Minister said, such attempts are "despicable" and we must never rest from ensuring that such attempts are suppressed. The idea that Islam is militant is absurd. In history Muslims were considerably gentler conquerors than the extremely brutal Christians. But whatever the history, they are our allies and our brothers.
We do not need to tell our Muslim friends that extremism must be contained. They stepped forward to sympathise deeply with the United States in its agony. But this extremism exists on both sides. Just as we will have no truck with the semi-racism and Nazism used against Islamic people or those of other religions, so I am sure the Muslim leaders recognise that they too must have no truck with and be completely dissociated from not so much jihad, which may mean no more than a struggle in oneself against sin, but against concepts such as jihad al saghir, which means go out and shed blood and kill people--and even more against the kind of fatwah which the noble Lord mentioned earlier. The World Islamic Front fatwah of 1998 enjoined all Muslims, not merely as a duty but as an individual duty, to go out and kill Americans and their allies in any way at any opportunity. So that extremism too needs to be sidelined from our affairs, and I am sure it will be.
Secondly, there is the question of the defence forces. The Defence Secretary Mr Hoon tells us he is thinking of rebalancing our forces. Perhaps we could hear a little more as to what that means. If it means that we are going to need more special forces, then that is long overdue in this world of new enemies. John Simpson, the distinguished foreign affairs correspondent, wrote in an interesting column that what are now needed are "invisible skills". They will require new equipment. Rows of tanks, fleets of helicopters and divisions of armed men are no longer necessarily the best security for our citizens or world peace.
While dwelling on security I agree with the Prime Minister that, far from abandoning the national missile defence concepts against rogue states, we need to reinforce them and help America more to rejig the whole of our nuclear deterrent thinking.
Thirdly, the noble Baroness mentioned the grand coalition. That is going well and Ministers must be commended on zipping round the world and doing their best. The only advice that one should have is that they should perhaps pack a long spoon in their luggage as they visit some of our coalition friends. It should never be forgotten that people who are as much against terrorism as we are may have their own agendas which they may pursue under cover of the general bonhomie of the coalition. I particularly worry about those who want to destabilise Saudi Arabia. That would be a world disaster on a bigger scale than anything so far. At the moment the price of oil has been the dog that did not bark: on the contrary it has become weaker and not stronger. If somehow Saudi Arabia lost its balance with its extreme Wahabi sect pouring money into the poisoned well of the terrorists and the rulers trying to stay alongside America, but losing their grip as a result, a direct result would be the end of a producer of world oil and catastrophic shortages, interruptions and prices rises, which would make anything that has gone so far look mild.
We have to tighten internal security. My noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith will have more to say on that. I simply say what has already been said; namely, that we must do nothing to undermine the liberties and law-based government which we are trying to protect and which the terrorists are trying to destroy. I am personally glad that the idea of identification cards has been put on the back burner because they would not help to catch terrorists. The German experience, where there is a very tough regime with compulsory identity cards, had made no difference at all. Indeed, much of the recent plot was hatched in Germany.
Finally, do we change policy? One's instinct is never to change it as a result of a terrorist act. Any changes that we make should be far more carefully considered than those arising from events of 11th September. I notice that before that date the United States was planning to bring forward a new strategy for the Middle East. I share totally the Israeli outrage at bombers who blow Israeli men, women and children to pieces in the shopping bazaars. Like the noble Baroness, I wish to see Israel's existence, and right to exist, totally guaranteed. As US policy indicates, I believe that the time is coming when the state of Palestine will come into being and the Israelis will have to accept it. That may be the beginning of the removal of that element of poison in the system. It has nothing to do with responding to terrorism, but is part of a longer-term policy.
I have said more than enough and taken my share of the time. We heard a great deal of talk about war. I believe, with the noble Baroness, that the real war is on poverty in Afghanistan and elsewhere. That is the breeding ground for terror. The causes of it are not Islam, which is an absurd suggestion. How could that be? Some of the richest countries in the world are Islamic. The main causes are bad governance, corruption, excessive state powers, crippling taxation and--I hope noble Lords will forgive the phrase--old-fashioned state socialism.
The cure is not armies, but letting in the daylight of global markets, investment, trade and enterprise. As the Prime Minister indicated in his fine speech, those who oppose the global economy are unwitting supporters of the very conditions in which terrorism thrives, both the poverty from which it arises and the poverty and misery which it creates, as the World Bank reminded us in its assessment of what 11th September will do to the poor of the world.
That is why the world centre of trade and investment was the target and why those who want a fairer, less violent and freer world should fight to the last for open trade, open investment and open societies in which terrorism has no place to hide and, indeed, no place at all.
My Lords, before moving to some of the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, perhaps I may return to what the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said in her very powerful speech. One of her central themes was that good should come out of evil. The noble Baroness spoke of some of the ways in which that might happen. There are two in particular that I wish to highlight. The first is the astonishing dedication of the public services of New York, the firemen, ambulancemen, doctors and many others, including ordinary citizens, who risked their lives helping others. That was one shaft of light in an otherwise a turbulent sea of darkness.
The second piece of good that may come from evil is the recognition now running very deep in the United States that it is no longer an invulnerable country. For a long time the United States was given to what is sometimes called American exceptionalism, the feeling that unlike the rest of us it was not subject to the suffering and extraordinary tumult of the world. I believe that that lesson has been well learned. It is very striking that the American Administration has begun to move towards a more multilateral policy. In particular, it has accepted the concept of an alliance covering many nations, with many different attitudes and philosophies.
It is worthwhile underlining attitudes in Britain. When George W Bush was elected--I certainly do not exempt myself from this criticism--there was a tendency to produce a great number of cartoons about Texan cowboys. There was the use of the word "Dubya" with the implicit sense of contempt contained in it. I believe that almost none of us could have imagined that Mr Bush would reach such a careful, sensible and patient approach to international affairs. A phrase which I believe is now used a great deal in Washington, and which I am sure is very familiar to the noble Baroness, is "strategic patience". It is not one which is immediately associated with the United States. I believe that it owes a great deal not only to the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the pressures of America's allies, but also to the wisdom of the senior Mr Bush who has been through all this before. Whatever the reasons may be, I believe that all of us feel much more confidence in the present American Administration than we might have done three months ago. It has been an amazing response.
As regards good coming from evil, the next point I wish to raise concerns the coalition. No one should be under any impression that it is other than a very fragile creature. I read recently some reports about the number of young men in Indonesia who are putting themselves forward as potential recruits for the mujaheddin defending Afghanistan and not attacking it. It is a very troubling set of reports from that country. The same is also true of many young men in Pakistan.
One of the difficulties of the coalition is that we have not yet won the hearts and minds, particularly of unemployed young people with few prospects in many of these troubled and poverty-stricken countries. That is why the twin-track approach is so crucially important. As the Leader of the House indicated, we have to deal not only with terrorism, which is difficult enough, but also give some kind of hope to a generation of young people for whom committing suicide may be the most attractive option open to them. It is a terrible thing to say.
Perhaps I may return to the question I asked the Leader of the House about the Statement. In the coalition there is still the issue of carrying conviction as regards the evidence against Osama bin Laden. I fully recognise the limitations. I underline again that in so far as we can make some confidential information available only to the Secretary-General, it might be very helpful in providing a global basis for an attack on terrorism and a global conviction that that is right. In many ways Kofi Annan is the representative of the whole of humanity and is so considered throughout the world. The more that we can involve the United Nations and in particular the Secretary-General, the stronger our position in that somewhat fragile coalition is likely to be.
I was somewhat concerned by the discussion introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, about the possibility of imposing a government on Afghanistan. I am puzzled. Whether that imposed government is moderate Taliban or whether it is the Northern Alliance, the central issue is that if we are to carry conviction within the coalition, there must be some test of opinion within Afghanistan itself.
My noble friend Lord Ashdown will talk more about this, but I find it puzzling that we have not discussed the possibility of a UN protectorate in Afghanistan for a substantial interim period until the refugees have returned and until it is possible to establish a wide measure of opinion for a successor government. One of the reasons why I am somewhat puzzled is because of the success in East Timor of precisely that procedure under which the Timorese returned as refugees, settled again in their own country and eventually, after several months, were able to give their own views about the kind of government they wished to govern them and whether or not they should be independent of Indonesia. I mention that because I think that imposing any solution on a Muslim state would, to say the least, set up hostages for the future.
I wholly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, about the importance of moving against discrimination on the basis of religion. Many of us here will remember that the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and others have continually pushed for this approach. It is only because of the current crisis that we now see the urgency of that statement.
We must not be hypocritical. Central to our view of human rights and of life is the sacred nature of the individual human being. In that context, we have to admit that the terrible events in Rwanda and Srebrenica, when 7,000 young Muslims were killed in cold blood, did not elicit the kind of response that we are making now. I understand why, but if we are to have solidarity between religions and embark on an attack on terrorism, we must begin to recognise the value of Muslim, African and Asian life, as well as the value of European and American life. I feel that we still have a long way to go.
I turn now to the internal structures, which I shall mention only briefly as I do not want to detain the House. There are two important points to make. First, I refer to indefinite detention without arrest or charge being made. I hope that the Government will think carefully about this issue. We know from experience in Northern Ireland that detention without an attempt to bring charges can be counter-productive. This is the area about which we on these Benches are most troubled. There must be a basis on which detention for a period has to be justified. We note that the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which provides for the right to extend the period for which someone can be detained for questioning, has been used only in a small number of cases. Will the Government consider how far that legislation already meets the needs that we have? There are undoubtedly real needs. I do not deny the need to investigate and question people who are suspected of terrorism.
Secondly, I add to what I said before about the funding of terrorism and other money laundering issues. The Leader of the House was gracious enough to admit that there is a weakness in this area. The approach to laundered funds is deeply flawed by the divisions within the government structure. There are least three ministries with some responsibility, including the Treasury, the Department of Trade and Industry and, curiously, the Home Office, which is responsible for many of the investigations, and one agency, the Financial Services Authority.
The Government often speak, reasonably, about joined-up government. I can think of few stronger examples of fractured government, and it would be helpful if over the next few months the Government would think about how to tighten up these serious divisions--I appreciate that they are already beginning to do so--in their counter attack on terrorist funds.
My final remarks concern an issue on which I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Howell. One of the breeding grounds of terrorism is unquestionably poverty. It is striking that the latest report of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, an international and much-respected body, shows that the past 20 years of economic growth have been much less productive for the poorest countries of the world than the previous 20 years--1960 to 1980. It even demonstrates the rapid widening of economic inequalities between rich and poor, and suggests that in the poorest countries in the world there has been a net drop in per capita income in the past 20 years. That is pretty devastating when the rest of us have benefited hugely from economic growth.
That has to be addressed more profoundly than by aid alone. We must look again at the world's deep inequalities and at how international bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, deal with those inequalities, sometimes caused by structural pressures which are almost beyond their capacity to bear. In this context, I add Russia. Despite its great interest in identifying with us against terrorist action, from which it has suffered greatly, it is suffering profoundly from the weakness of its economic system. We cannot neglect that entirely if Russia is to become an ally. Nor can we totally neglect some of the action that Russia has taken in Chechnya and pretend that Russia can be part of our counter-attack. There are limits to what we ought to do.
My final point is a different, philosophic one, which was brought to my attention by people with a much greater knowledge and closer understanding of terrorism than I have. The current situation has been created not only by economic conditions. These men and women believe profoundly in what they are doing and reject our way of life in all kinds of ways. They reject our beliefs, values, commitment to human rights, our individualism, and so on. One of the sources of that profound rejection lies in what many people in the developing world see as their traditional ancient structures which offer some kind of protection against the pressures of the world. We have to understand the desire that people have to belong to something and somewhere, and the way in which poverty drives them to identifying more closely with the communities and groups to which they belong. There are not only economic causes and military sources of terrorism, but something that we in the western world hardly understand at all, which is the spiritual source of terrorism. That issue must also be profoundly addressed.
My Lords, my first pleasant task is to thank so many of your Lordships and staff for the welcome, the kindness and practical help that I have already received since coming to your Lordships' House. It has been particularly pleasant to renew friendships in all parts of the House with those whom I have known and met in my 41 years in the other place.
Parliament has been recalled for the second time in the long Recess. I cannot remember that happening before. I turn immediately to the reasons for the recall, and pay the highest tribute to the Prime Minister's role since the terrible events of 11th September. He has reacted in a measured, caring way, which was crystallised in the speech that he made on Tuesday. He said succinctly that the action that we take will be proportionate and targeted and that we will do all that we can to avoid civilian casualties. The words "proportionate" and the need for targeting and avoiding "civilian casualties" derives from the general principles of customary international law, codified in Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Action should not be indiscriminate and should not cause excessive damage to civilians.
It is in the public domain that as Attorney-General I played a ministerial role in the Kosovo campaign. Perhaps I may say that the Prime Minister's Statement has always been our approach and I trust that it always will be so.
It is vitally important that the leaders of the coalition use the correct language to justify the action taken. It would be foolish for our aims to be confused by an argument about ill-chosen words. That is what the clever men and women who advise world leaders are supposed to ensure does not occur. The speech writer who allowed such a word as "crusade" to be used had no sense of history whatever. International law does not allow for "revenge" or "retaliation".
However, self-defence is allowed, as the noble and learned Lords, Lord Howe of Aberavon and Lord Mayhew of Twysden, and the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, said in the previous debate, and self-defence is a wide-ranging concept. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, said:
"No state should be required to wait until an attack has in fact been launched and only then try to parry the blow".--[Official Report, 14/9/01; col. 31.]
It could not have been said better.
I welcome the Security Council resolutions of 12th and 28th September,
"recognising the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in accordance with the charter", and expressing its readiness to,
"take all necessary steps", to deal not only with the attacks of 11th September but all forms of terrorism. The resolution of 28th September,
"decides that states shall deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts".
It is never easy to reach agreement on the form of words that emanate from the Security Council. I believe that the action we take, provided that it is proportionate, is well within the ambit of our rights under the charter.
Osama bin Laden undoubtedly presides over scores of training camps for the export of terror. There are demands for the evidence to be publicised now. We have not yet seen the interim statement to which the Prime Minister referred. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, the NATO Secretary-General, said on Tuesday after an American briefing that the facts,
"are clear and compelling . . . The information points conclusively to Al'Qaeda's role in the attacks".
I accept that the limitations set out by the Prime Minister today for saying nothing more now is that the sources and methods of obtaining information would be compromised. That was my experience both as a defence Minister and as a Law Officer. It is not only bin Laden who is wanted but his organisation, and his capacity to commit further acts of terrorism has to be destroyed.
However, if the leaders survive, they will have to be brought to justice. Obviously they should be tried in the American courts for the events of 11th September. That is the stage when sufficient evidence will have to be produced to secure convictions.
Turning from terrorism, for which there is ample judicial machinery, it is sad that the International Criminal Court, which the government in which I served were in the vanguard in sponsoring, is still not in being. The last Bill in the previous Parliament cleared the decks for our ratification of its treaty. I understand that we are about to ratify. Thirty-eight countries have already done so. Sixty countries are needed to ratify for the court to come into being. Sadly, the United States does not accept it; certainly not in its present form. At last April's meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the British delegation, of which I was a member, succeeded in obtaining unanimous agreement to encourage countries to ratify.
A global alliance is not a one-way street and I hope that the tragedy of 11th September will bring home to all the need to reconsider the repercussions of all forms of isolationism. I see signs of that happening. The diplomatic map of national interest has been redrawn since 11th September. I welcome the emphasis on diplomatic and financial action as well as military. I particularly welcome the concern and the action already taken in order to try to alleviate the human catastrophe in Afghanistan this winter.
The coalition that is being built already manifests different degrees of enthusiasm for particular action. That is understandable; countries have their own domestic agendas. The greater the action that is taken the greater the need for us to be on our guard against the coalition unravelling. In the days ahead, world leaders will have some awesome tasks and duties and our sympathies are with them.
My Lords, on behalf of the whole House, I am both honoured and delighted to congratulate the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, on an admirable and indeed memorable maiden speech. It was certainly measured, proportionate and targeted.
The noble and learned Lord has served his country so well in four different but inter-linked areas of our national life: military, law, politics and government. He served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and then he achieved a law degree from the University of Aberystwyth and from Gonville and Caius College Cambridge. He was called to the Bar in 1954. He entered the other place as an extremely young Member in October 1959 and served for almost 42 years. During that time he had government portfolios of power, transport and defence. Latterly he was Secretary of State for Wales from 1968 to 1970 and lastly Attorney-General from 1997 to 1999. All noble Lords will realise that that is a most impressive list and shows his breadth of experience and expertise.
I said that I was delighted as well as honoured to congratulate the noble and learned Lord because my late husband and I were personal friends of the whole Morris family for more than 30 years. The one thing I have learnt about the noble and learned Lord was that there is one word which epitomises his whole character and dedication to national life; it is the word "wisdom". That is something which we need in this House. We have it in great abundance but the more we have, particularly at times such as this, the more we can benefit. I hope that we shall have many opportunities to benefit from that wisdom in his future contributions to our debates.
My Lords, I wish to say at the outset that my contribution today in this most important debate will not be an assessment of recent developments in international terrorism. They were well described in today's Statement, so ably delivered by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons. Nor will it be an emotive response to the devastating events of 11th September. However, like most Members here today the events of that day are just as vivid in my mind as they were three weeks ago and will surely never fade. No words can adequately express our feelings of sharing the suffering of our fellow men and women and wishing that we could do something.
There has been an enormous amount of speculation since 11th September about the fundamental aims of the vile, brutal and devastating attack on the United States. Was it religious; was it anti-US; was it linked to the Middle East conflict; or was it even a hatred of globalisation--a word that seems to be shorthand for capitalism and wealth creation? We were told this morning that Osama bin Laden said that he had a religious and logical obligation to carry out his actions resulting in, among other things, appalling mass casualties of civilians. I firmly believe that that is absolutely counter to the religion of Islam.
Perhaps we shall never know what his objectives were. However, whatever the reason, it has had the effect of uniting the world, in a way not seen in my lifetime, in its determination that the evil forces behind such action must be apprehended, brought to justice and utterly thwarted in whatever hopes they may have of continuing their violence against humanity. On this level we can feel assured that all the best professional security, military and political minds are single-minded in their objective of rooting out this terrorism. All eyes are focused on getting Osama bin Laden and his appalling Al'Qaeda organisation, and that gives us some reassurance in these most unsure, insecure and worrying times.
While this is happening the economic impact has appeared to be secondary in most people's minds. That is understandable: the visual impact of the horror of 11th September, coupled with the feeling of helplessness that I have described as though we are all suffering with the suffering of our friends, have resulted in introspection and a concentration on religious and metaphysical responses in our troubled minds.
Maybe this response is exactly what was planned because by it we are in danger of neglecting any consideration of the future in terms of how we can continue wealth creation in order to give employment, raise taxes for education, health and social issues, and, indeed, fulfil our humanitarian efforts throughout the world. Are we playing into the hands of the terrorists by neglecting what needs to be done urgently, to get the world economic system back on its feet?
We must try to ensure, in our own individual and collective way, that the very spirit of America--its "can do" attitude--stirs us to look forward. We must make every effort to emulate the Americans in their ways of working hard and looking forward with confidence and stimulating business and trade throughout the world. That would be a fitting memorial to those whose lives were so cruelly ended on 11th September.
I speak in this debate as an active businessperson who, for over 35 years, has been involved in many sectors of industry and commerce in this country, and who is still involved. With specific relevance to the debate today, I declare my interest as a director of British Airways and of Thistle Hotels. Those two companies were--within minutes in the first case and hours in the second--affected logistically and economically in a most fundamental way. In both cases true British grit was on display from the outset and is still hugely obvious to customers. I am very proud to be associated with both companies; and I am determined to do whatever I can to help out in these troubled times. And troubled times they certainly are.
The worldwide aviation story unfolds with increasing grimness every day. Although in the normal course of business, British Airways competes with other airlines in striving to gain market share, produce better service levels and provide more attractive networks than its competitor airlines, it takes no comfort in seeing the demise of long-standing airlines that have served the public very well in opening up the world to leisure travellers and smoothing the operation of world business.
Sadly, I fear that the latest problems of the international air transport industry and their impact in economic terms could be but the beginning. The industry was in a depressed state before 11th September. In this country our problems began on 24th February with the first case of foot and mouth disease being discovered. The domino effect took hold. Tourism suffered and the airline and hotel sectors were badly bit. The acceleration of this problem into a major crisis has been the swiftest change in economic fortune that I have ever seen. Tourists are staying away, hotels are experiencing the lowest levels of occupancy for many years and all the tourist attractions are likely to be affected badly. Since 11th September there has been a reduction in revenue and occupancy in London hotels, amounting to some 25 per cent, compared with the same weeks last year. That is not surprising as visitors from the US account for some 30 per cent of the London tourist market.
It can only be a matter of time before retail spending on all but essential items will also show a significant decline. There is no doubt that consumer confidence has taken a nosedive, not because the consumer does not have the money to spend but because, somehow, their hearts are not in it. Until confidence is restored, we are all in for a very difficult time.
There are things that can be done at the macro level; and the Bank of England has already shown that its finger is on the pulse with the almost coincidental reduction in the official interest rate and hopefully another one later today.
But measures to ensure the long-term viability of the tourist industry, which has been so badly hit already this year, are a little more difficult, and it has asked for additional marketing spend to encourage British people to take holidays in Britain. The BTA has estimated that some 70,000 jobs are at risk as a direct result of the terrorist attacks on 11th September.
It is not special pleading on my part to ask the Government to consider actions that will ensure that the global competitiveness of British business is not reduced by the events of 11th September. Doubtless there will be a continuing worldwide decline in air transport and a continuing worldwide falling off in tourism and hotel occupancy while we all work our way through this crisis. However, I believe that it is essential that the "rules of the game" are the same for all involved in world business.
This country punches above its weight in so many areas. We should not forget that we account only for about 1 per cent of the world population. In aviation terms, after the US and Japan, we are the third largest aviation nation. After the US, British airlines carry the second largest number of passengers worldwide. These figures are important, but they are just figures. What is even more important is the contribution made by a company such as British Airways to the overall global impact of our country.
Its global network does an immense amount of work, encouraging trade missions, both inwards and outwards, and linking with our embassies and consulates throughout the world; in fact, doing a great deal for the country, although not state owned.
The impact of the company in the UK is much bigger. British Airways does most of the pilot training in this country; it is heavily involved in the engineering industry; and it spends some £5 billion each year with some 7,000 UK suppliers. The domino effect has already fallen on suppliers. British Airways has instigated a "supplier watch" scheme to try to help those suppliers who are suffering as a result of this crisis.
The company creates employment throughout the UK and is recognised as a huge supporter of charitable causes. British Airways does not cherry-pick network decisions and maintains the largest network throughout the UK to support business and regional communities. To allow British Airways to follow the fate of Swissair would be unthinkable. It will not happen provided that the international competitive structures remain in place. In other words, we just want fairness for all.
This may seem a doom-laden scenario, and there are those who maintain that no fares should ever be above £9.90, including taxes, irrespective of destination. Anyone with half a brain can see that that is not possible. Organisations which act in this way, at a time like this, do nothing for the economy, the country, pilot training or the engineering industry. We know that heightened security measures will be introduced. That will be a huge additional cost for all airlines. Aircraft productivity will be reduced because of the longer times on the ground due to the security measures and therefore there will be fewer flying hours. That will be another huge cost.
It is only fair that there should be even-handedness throughout the world. If governments bail out their airlines, as they are already doing in the United States, those who are left to fend for themselves could well become additional casualties of the terrorist attacks of 11th September. This is an argument for all our industry. We must not allow an external shock to destroy our industry by believing that the market place will sort the matter out. We cannot afford to lose all those years of experience and expertise. We are not asking for huge aid packages. All we need is an assurance that government action worldwide will not kill our variant thriving industry.
The European Union has a role to play in all of this as the guardian of state aid and competition rules. Our Government also have a big role to play through the International Civil Aviation Organisation. If both those organisations are really determined to seek an opportunity arising from a ghastly tragedy they could determine to get rid of all state aid. In the very short term the industry may need help to cover fixed costs while customer confidence is restored.
In ending, I reiterate that we need to take steps to ensure that these evil terrorists do not wound us permanently. We must look forward and ensure that our place in the world is not only at the table of the coalition but also, as described by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, in wealth creation. In that way we can continue to fulfil a role of addressing economic inequalities in the world.
My Lords, in opening my first contribution to this House, perhaps I may express my deepest appreciation to all those colleagues and friends who have been so good to me during the few days that I have so far managed to attend. In particular, I should like to single out the Government Chief Whip for his very good advice and support. I am sure that the noble Lord hopes that I shall be as receptive to his advice in the future. I shall do my best.
Perhaps I may explain to the House that I come to this debate as a former member of the Intelligence and Security Committee. That committee was set up by the Major administration of 1993-97 to monitor the intelligence agencies. That excellent committee was able to meet regularly with the heads and senior officials of Britain's intelligence agencies--GCQH, MI5 and MI6--and the heads of agencies in the United States and other European countries. It rapidly dawned on me and other members of the committee that what happened in New York was inevitable. Everything pointed in intelligence terms--I do not breach any law saying what I do--to what happened in New York. Osama bin Laden featured on our agendas. Although I am no longer a member of the committee, having moved from the other place to this House, I feel sure that that will remain the position--in respect of the leaders of violent organisations and agencies--well into the future.
Rogue states will no longer use missile systems to deliver effectively their weapons of mass destruction but surrogate organisations--if only because they know that they cannot be traced. The theory behind such warfare, which came through strongly during our hearings, is that because such states can hide their identity, that is the way to wage war in future. Unless we are careful and if we do not take unpopular decisions and the right action now, there will be further occurrences in the future.
Intelligence has moved from the back room to the front of the stage. The arrangements for reporting intelligence to Parliament need to change, with the appointment of a Minister responsible for intelligence and security who reports to both Houses. We are too secretive. Much of the material that came before the ISC could have been published without compromising national security. Anyone who read the committee's annual reports will recognise that is the case. Also, the structure of the ISC should change. At the moment, it is a committee of parliamentarians, not of Parliament. The ISC reports to the Prime Minister, not to Parliament. It would be feasible to establish the structure that has been debated at length in the other place, which would enable reports to be made directly to Parliament without compromising national security.
It is said that the use of national identity cards would have made no difference in the case of New York. What rubbish! One only needs to establish the right structure and a database that is properly monitored and managed--which is not the case with the FBI at the moment in terms of management of materials, as we have learned from recent CIA leaks--in conjunction with national identity cards held by all US or UK citizens and by persons applying for visas at the point of immigration. Such cards might incorporate iris recognition but certainly DNA and fingerprint data and a photograph.
In the case of America, if such identity cards had existed and been submitted at the airport check-in desks, that information could have been flashed to Washington, or wherever the database was held. That would have triggered an alert at the airport where the hijackers boarded the aircraft. Because such a system was not in operation, the authorities were not aware of who was boarding the aircraft. Reliable intelligence leaks published in the British press tell us that the authorities knew some of the hijackers. If an ID card system and a central database had been available, surely that would have impacted on events and those incidents would not have taken place.
Identity cards have a special role to play in dealing with international terrorism and conflict but they have many other benefits, which have been rehearsed many times in recent years in the British media. It is said that one problem with ID cards is that they can be forged. I do not believe that it is possible to forge cards containing all the data I described. It was disturbing to hear the noble Lord, Lord Howell--I hope that I am not misrepresenting his position--reject the idea of national identity cards. I hope that he will reconsider. Many people support their use and I will give the House a personal example of how a national ID card was of particular benefit to me.
In the 1960s, I was a student in Paris during the course of the Algerian conflict involving the OAS and FLN. Every day, the CRS was on the streets of Paris. As foreign students, we felt quite vulnerable. As a young student, I looked a little south European--some might even say, north African. I was thankful for my carte de sejour. It was my hardy shield against the excesses of gendarmes who might have gone further than they normally should have done. I felt reassured by carrying my identity document. The civil libertarians in this country have completely misunderstood the use by minorities of identity documentation, which can be helpful and reassuring. I am only reflecting the comments that one can find in the British press by people from different communities world-wide. Think hard before rejecting identity cards and ponder carefully the arguments about civil liberties.
Finally, I want to say a few words about the origin of the present conflict. I am sure that my remarks will not please everyone. The widening nature of the conflict, which brings in more and more people who may not be activists, goes back to the problems that exist in Israel. We have to sort out Israel. One cannot treat international terrorism in isolation. Someone, somewhere, must--to put it crudely--take Israel by the scruff of the neck, perhaps even fortifying, by the international guarantees that are the arrangements by which Israel exists. We should ensure that the land on the West Bank occupied by the state of Israel is returned to the Palestinians. There will be no resolution of the conflict until that action is taken. The western democracies have to face up to that responsibility. The answer is not to dismiss that argument--as British newspapers have done in recent months--and blame everything else. I hope that Ministers will take that matter into account when they formulate policy.
My Lords, it is my privilege on behalf of the House to thank the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, for his remarkable maiden speech. We have a new Member of the House whose independence of mind can be in no doubt and who certainly cannot be described as a follower of fashion. The word that has accompanied the noble Lord throughout his career as a parliamentarian is "integrity". We are profoundly grateful for that integrity.
The noble Lord brings many years of experience as a graduate of the Sorbonne, a parliamentarian and someone who has done a great deal to consider and tighten regulations on the conduct of parliamentarians. As we have also heard, he has a very keen eye for detail. I imagine that, in the contributions that we all hope he will be making over many years to the business of the House, we will need to be very much on our toes as he exemplifies and displays that attention to detail which is so important in the complex matters that lie before us. I thank him for his personal courage and for his integrity.
I do not want to rehearse many of the themes that have been well stated by previous speakers. But one of the perils which has come into focus since our last debate in this House is the wider impact of possible military action against Afghanistan on the already unstable situation in central Asia as a whole, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams.
I have a special responsibility for relations with eastern orthodox Christians. That is why I have travelled over many years in the former Soviet Union and in the states which have emerged since the fall of Communism. As we all know, the five central Asian states were already attempting to mobilise before 11th September against their own internal terrorist threats. They had even agreed to establish a joint anti-terrorist centre in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. As we have heard, the region is also afflicted by the consequences of the drought, as well as by insurgencies of various kinds.
It seems clear that any coalition action in or from that region needs to be accompanied by long-term efforts to stabilise central Asia politically and economically. Some kind of Marshall Plan for the region is needed. We must be aware--as many noble Lords are aware--of the danger reflected in a recent statement by an Uzbek official, who cautioned that,
"our government will get full support from the West to fight against those our government declares terrorists. Since the West has little understanding or interest in distinguishing between devoted Muslims and extremists or terrorists, all opponents of the government will be easily jailed".
There is clearly a dangerous prospect of greater instability. The danger is that we shall once again unwittingly create a Frankenstein in central Asia.
The importance of supporting any action with a humanitarian relief programme has already, rightly, been stressed. The Scriptures say:
"If your enemy hungers, feed him".
This may be controversial advice in conventional warfare but, as we seek to deny to terrorists the achievement of their aim to spread fear and hatred, it seems to me that it is a strategy that is prudent as well as pious.
But analyses of the conflict which suggest that religion--again, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, touched on this point--is simply a cover for economic discontent and the unequal development caused by globalisation are hangovers from the flatland Marxist interpretation of the world. Osama bin Laden himself does not come from the ranks of the poor and marginalised, nor are his stated aims in his struggles with the US, moderate Arab governments and the Shi'ite regime in Iran reducible to economic grievances. Aid and development may reduce the pool of those who sympathise with terrorists, but it will not solve the problem of what we might call "apocalyptic terrorism", which, like the gas attack on the Japanese underground, arises not from a clash between civilisations--many noble Lords have rightly made this point--or between haves and have nots, but from profound anxiety within civilisations about the direction that secular materialism is taking in our time.
Terrorism cannot possibly be defended from any of the great spiritual traditions of the world, but the religious dimension of the present crisis is not reducible to any other categories. In a world of divergent histories and beliefs it is vital that we reinvest in a long, ancient tradition of genuine tolerance and respect built on genuine though divergent belief.
It is easy to point to Muslim civilisations in which this tolerance has been an especial characteristic. Let me give one small example. The great Christian defender of the icon tradition in which Christ and his saints are depicted, St John of Damascus, was free to write his book defending the holy icons at a time when his views were being persecuted in the Christian empire. Why? Because this great Christian saint and scholar was the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Umayyad Caliph of Damascus. That is how he got away with it.
Faith-based tolerance is a vital component of our response to the present emergency. I was glad to stand together last night with London Muslims in an event organised by the Muslim Council to demonstrate our many common values and to make new allies in combating fear and hate.
My most reverend brother, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, has issued an open invitation to prayer, focused on tomorrow, Friday, 5th October. The invitation is to all Christians, but also to all people of faith. Already the response has been very encouraging--not in terms of great events but of people committing themselves to pray in the workplace and at home for peace, justice and the reconciliation of faiths. To demonstrate that we are fully part of the modern world, the most reverend Primate has opened up a web site, with suggestions and materials, which can be accessed from www.invitationtoprayer.org.uk.
Lastly, I wonder whether it would be wise to consider establishing an ad hoc Select Committee of the House to report on the changing nature of global conflict and on strategies for defeating deadly conflict. Such a committee would be able to embrace a multi-track approach and consider the role of religious and cultural factors as well as the more traditional diplomatic, economic and military tools for combating the new threat, and any necessary changes to domestic and international law. I know that your Lordships' House has a tradition of establishing such Select Committees on an ad hoc basis. I remember in particular the success and the great influence of the committee on medical ethics which set the agenda for so many of the debates in the 1990s.
The subject matter would not be the immediate response to the dreadful events of 11th September but the consideration of a longer term strategy for a conflict which, as the noble Baroness has already said, will, I fear, haunt us for a long time to come. We shall have to travel, with cool minds and humility, through to victory for the whole of the world community.
My Lords, it is only a few short months ago that I found myself making my swansong speech in the other place. In that speech I thanked that House for putting up with me for 27 years and I thanked the Parliamentary Labour Party, not only for its reception of me--I use these words deliberately--but for giving me three very happy years in the previous Parliament. I also thanked my former party--I cannot and would not put it higher than this--for its kind toleration (I use that word also deliberately) of my political perambulations.
I should like to begin my participation in your Lordships' House by thanking not only noble Lords of my own party, the Labour Party, but friends in all parts of the House for the kind welcome that they have given me. Obviously I do not feel alone in the concept of perambulating in this House, but obviously one is a little sensitive and I should like to thank everyone in your Lordships' House.
I shall get straight to the point. I appreciate that there are no time limits, but I have to be as brief as I can in my maiden speech. I wish first to deal with the background to these lamentable, horrendous events and then to deal with what we can do about them.
As to the background, I should declare to the House--most of your Lordships know this already--that I have had a very long-standing interest, and indeed participation in many ways, in middle eastern affairs. I have also been happily married for 37 years to an Iranian wife and therefore am perhaps more exposed than many others to many of the matters that we are talking about because of my personal and political interests.
I deal with the background and the causation of the matter. First, we are dealing here undoubtedly with globalisation. We are dealing with a serious imbalance of power. We are dealing with a perceived unstoppability of western values and culture. We are dealing with a fear of change and a resulting fallback on to traditional values and, indeed, reactionary thinking. That is as true of a McDonald's in France as it is of many instances in the Middle East.
Secondly, we are dealing with a perceived quasi-colonial struggle--which, of course, explains the wide extent of the possible lamentable participation in these events from across the world--against perceived western domination. It is no accident that many of the alleged participants in the recent horrors came from Saudi Arabia and the southern Gulf. Undoubtedly, western supported regimes and the security of many of them are important, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, has already said, but the western supported regimes are part of the problem. An example is Saudi Arabia itself and the United States presence in the homeland of the Prophet. Egypt is another example of an authoritarian regime supported by the West and homeland of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Algeria a particularly vicious and nasty war has been waged by the western backed military against the Islamics.
The third part of the causation is undoubtedly the policy of isolating Iran and Iraq. They are different but I take them together here for reasons of time. Constant military strikes on Iraq and complete commercial isolation of Iran and, indeed, Iraq amount to yet another constant source of humiliation for many ordinary Muslims and contribute to the breeding ground of the terrorism that we are increasingly witnessing.
Fourthly, there is the running sore--because that is what it is and I speak as a Labour Friend of Israel, as I was a Conservative friend of Israel, in saying this--of Israel and the Palestinian problem. There can be no doubt of the nightly humiliation that many feel in witnessing on their television sets young Arabs being shot by Israeli soldiers. That has to end, as others have already said. What can be done about it all? I make some submissions as one cannot deal with the whole problem. First, on the military side, I do not envisage a big war; indeed, it would be quite dreadful if ever that were to happen. That just incites further trouble and exacerbates the problem. We must realise that every bomb potentially encourages another declaration of jihad and another suicide bomber.
However, on the military side--there is a military side--we need a defined objective. That objective should concentrate on the accepted and perceived sources of these acts of terrorism; that is, the Taliban and, through it, bin Laden. It should comprise such military action and such incursions as are necessary--this is an important point--to enable the locals to do the job. I do not think that we should be seen in any way to settle Afghanistan's fate or to impose any regime upon it. There are people willing to do the job. They need the assistance that we should be prepared to give them. As regards the neighbours of Afghanistan, I say without any doubt at all that if the Taliban is deposed and, indeed, bin Laden is brought to justice--I mention Pakistan and Iran in particular, but it applies to the whole lot of them--they will heave an enormous sigh of relief.
Secondly, I refer to civil anti-terrorist measures. I shall concentrate mainly on foreign policy measures here but civil anti-terrorist measures are absolutely vital. I welcome the firm beginning that the Government are making to attack terrorism from the outside by tackling its finances. Those and other measures are as effective a way of dealing with terrorism as the more dramatic military variety of action.
Thirdly, I deal with straight foreign policy because in dealing with the situation we need a more inclusive and acceptable western--not just American, although it is primarily American--foreign policy. That involves a major United States rethink. As I am sure do other noble Lords, I welcome the signs from this administration and generally in the United States of that rethink happening. They cannot go it alone anymore. They need to sympathise with--I say that with all respect--and understand other cultures and to try to reach out to them. They are a global power but they also have the responsibility to act as such in the interests of those over whom they have power.
Finally, I list areas of action and change which I submit the United States can consider and which are indeed relevant to the West and to the United Kingdom. First and foremost, particularly as regards our American friends and allies, is the matter of Israel. They must dilute their virtual blind support of anything Israel does. In previous administrations--and, I hope, this one--the United States has pressed for a settlement in the region. I see a secure Israel in the future but I do not see an Israel being secure by being dependent upon the tanks of General Sharon. Israel owes it to us and to her supporters in the West to come to the peace table in a more convincing way than she has done in the past year.
The United States must encourage contact with Iran. There are signs that the administration want that--indeed, it is certain that American business wants that contact--but, as your Lordships know, the problem lies with Congress. However, it does no good to isolate the extremists in that country. The sooner there is contact the better it will be for the moderate elements.
The constant bombing of Iraq is a constant negative. If we wanted to end the regime of Saddam Hussein we should have done that in 1991. Ten years comprising a negative rather than a constructive approach have now gone by. I ask the Government to communicate something of that view to our American allies.
Finally, the United States must engage internationally and with Islam. It must engage across the board from environmental policy to sitting in some advanced war headquarters in Saudi Arabia directing constant air strikes on Iraq. It must engage not only as a power and not only with responsibility and understanding but it must also engage as a friend. If it is perceived to be not just a power but also an understanding friend and if that is seen to be the situation by the world at large and by the Islamic world in particular, we shall get the peace that that world, and we all, deserve.
My Lords, it is my pleasure and privilege, on behalf of the whole House, to thank and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, on his interesting and informative maiden speech. His sense of individual political conviction and his long and renowned career in politics make him no stranger to the ways of Parliament, but it is clear that he will bring to your Lordships' House much of the value and expertise that he gained in another place over many years. I note from his extensive entry in Who's Who that he was at one time chairman of the Afghanistan Support Committee. He is truly a most informed and important addition to the membership of your Lordships' House; his arrival now is as timely as it is welcome.
Except for those who lost loved ones, the indescribable feeling of shock, of dismay and of horror at the events of 11th September and their immediate aftermath is passing. So, too, is the gut response that something must be done immediately to punish and bring those who are responsible to account. Combined with that gut response are the other ones of concern, even fear, that there is likely to be continuing and continuous acts of comparable terror, or at least the threat of them, facing every country and every airline, and in every major city of the world, not least in London.
Spurred by those concerns, political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have characterised the fight-back to eliminate the scourge of such terrorism, as a war. The media reflected a widely-held view that there was bound to be a major punitive raid or series of raids mounted rapidly, with all the complex sophistication which a modern superpower could command and deliver. Events have proved that reaction, if it was ever seriously considered except by millions of poor, fleeing Afghani refugees, to be false. The noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, has also stressed this point. Indeed, until the targets for such action have been found, it is unlikely to take place. Until the combined intelligence resources can bring forward real-time intelligence, ill-directed punitive action would surely be only grossly counter-productive to the longer term strategy, which has also been announced, of a global campaign against international terrorism.
Although we are being encouraged to see this as a war against terrorism, it is obvious that this is not a conventional type of war, where one or more countries or alliances are pitted against another group or group of states. Since the end of the Cold War, much has been written by defence analysts about asymmetric warfare; that is, warfare where a country's opponent is not a straightforward national identity, but a ruthless and determined group of individuals, rebels or organised criminals. Such individuals or criminals are intent on achieving their aims or ambitions by the use of force, extortion and gross acts of terror. The United States and her national allies, including the United Kingdom, form one side of this asymmetric equation.
But it is clear from the complexity and success--in the terrorists' terms--of the four closely co-ordinated and horrifying hijacks, mass murders and serial suicides on 11th September, that the planning and leadership, the utterly calculated conviction and the deadly determination of a considerable number of individuals over a period of weeks and years, is far from asymmetric. There is a degree of symmetry with our own professional abilities: to conceptualise; to plan and prepare; to command and control; and with these essential features of conflict, to achieve a required outcome. We must take that on board.
Consider the efforts required: to plan and achieve four concurrent hijacks, with possibly one or more previous "dry runs" of their actions--at least up to the point of hijacking--to ensure a high assurance of success on the day; to indoctrinate dozens of individuals to contemplate and commit suicide and mass murder; to establish good communications and tactical control; to take account, for example, of changes in flight times, take-off times or the weather--two days after the tragedy, New York was covered with low cloud and rain and no visual attack would have been possible; and to control and perhaps commit or hold off other flights on the day with hijack teams on board. I hope that the authorities are looking into that possibility. Overall, there must have been some master planning and controlling group or cell. There must be leads, not only to those who are now dead terrorist hijackers, but to the other individuals and teams who had a hand in planning, preparing and mounting these dastardly attacks. All this points to the key role to be played by the security forces, police and intelligence services in helping to track down the perpetrators of these murderous crimes.
But the response, if terror is ever to be eliminated, has to be much more widely drawn than a few spectaculars that capture the headlines. First, who is to be labelled a terrorist? We are accustomed to the same individual or group being seen as a "terrorist" from one end of the telescope and as a "freedom fighter" from the other end. If we are to be clear about who is the enemy, and that now seems to include states which sponsor terrorists and terrorism, then it becomes even more critical to be clear about the meaning of "terrorist".
When they slam into the World Trade Centre they pinpoint themselves. But are we going to define a terrorist only because of his or her past successes or near successes? Surely not. The net must be widened to encompass those who pose a threat, but then on what scale? On what scale should national forces, resources and actions be measured and committed against such putative threats? No doubt the Government and the other countries involved with us in this new struggle--or rather a new approach to a long-running struggle--are working on this, not least in NATO after invoking Article 5.
Is there a United Nations-approved definition? That, I fear, will be more difficult to achieve, but there should be a definition. Without it, the demands and contributions which the Armed Forces and others will be called upon to make will not be clear. In the Falklands and Gulf conflicts, a war cabinet was set up. Mention was made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal that COBRA met last night. Is COBRA the equivalent of a war cabinet? If so, who are its members? Is the Chief of the Defence Staff among its membership?
Two key issues arise when armed forces are to be committed. They must never be lost sight of in our determination to respond to the threats we face. One is to ensure that there is a clear and achievable military aim; that is, a measurable aim, measurable in a way that is unambiguous. The other key issue is an exit strategy. In the Gulf conflict, when I was Chief of the Defence Staff, the military aim we were given was to push the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait and so weaken them--in particular the Republican Guards--that there would be little risk of them reoccupying Kuwait when the coalition forces were withdrawn. As CDS, I was happy with that and with the clear indication that when what had been asked for from the Armed Forces had been achieved, there was an exit strategy.
After many weeks in theatre there would be a respectable withdrawal, an end to the massive and unsustainable commitment upon which we had embarked; namely, unsustainable at that level if we were to remain in theatre for many more months and did not resort to the use of force to achieve the military objective. So we also had an exit strategy. Before going in, know how to get out; have an exit strategy. We shall not be welcome indefinitely, certainly not with large forces on the ground in any of the Middle East and Asian trouble spots.
In the deployment and operational use of our Armed Forces, I hope that the Government will be clear, at least in their own mind, about the way to finish the commitment or commitments they have ordered. Their choice will be either a heavy commitment for a short period of time or a more prolonged one, but at a much lower level of intensity. In their last defence review, the Government have already set a measure of the scale of commitments that our Armed Forces may have to undertake. The Defence Secretary has hinted that, with adjustments to meet the new threats, they will hold to the defence budget. I hope that, in so doing, the Government will not lose sight of the more conventional threats to our country which may still exist.
But that is not the whole story. Our unit strengths are worryingly poor. We know that many units are not fully manned. This under-manning must place considerable strain on many of the individuals and units on which we may be relying. The Government must not be tempted, in particular if we are to commit forces to operations over the longer term in any continuous way, further to overstretch those that remain. The early exodus and reluctance to recommit to longer service, which have been symptoms of the recent past, would only be aggravated.
Given the rhetoric, re-emphasised last Tuesday by the Prime Minister in Brighton, about tackling international terrorism not only in our own country but around the world, we must expect our forces to be deployed and operating once more on a global scale. And a global commitment bears its own additional costs in logistic support and training, as well as the costs of the operations themselves. There can be no case for further cuts in the defence budget.
Indeed, a recognition that cuts have now gone too far would be very welcome. We are facing new commitments. Why do we not have an early announcement of a substantial rise in the resources devoted to intelligence and defence, as has been made already across the Atlantic? That would give our own services and the public the clearest of signals that this Government are in earnest about their determination to bear down on terrorism in all its guises. I hope that we shall learn very soon that the services, on which we always rely so greatly at times of danger, will be given this encouraging signal of their importance in the Government's fight against terrorism. This House and the country are entitled to ask: will this Government do it and do it soon?
My Lords, in following the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, it is my very great pleasure to congratulate him on his highly impressive and persuasive maiden speech. Although having very different political views, he and I have long been friends--indeed, he would say, at one point even conspirators. We know each other well and therefore I was not in any way surprised by the excellence of his speech. I was grateful to him for making at least a few kind comments about his former party. We look forward very much to hearing him again.
I am also grateful for the opportunity to express my support for everything that the Government have said today, for everything that the Minister has said, and for the actions that the Government propose to take against terrorism. In a debate such as this, it is extremely difficult to find the words adequately to express one's horror and revulsion at what happened in New York. As, I am sure, is the case for everyone in this Chamber, I have many friends in New York. I have spoken to them on the telephone. By listening to their voices, one can still hear and sense the shock and horror that they feel. Thus one has been able to participate in their grief. As others have done, I express my admiration for the firemen, the rescuers and the wonderful resilience of the people of the great city of New York, absolutely epitomised, as the Minister said, by the irrepressible Mayor Giuliani.
There can be no justification--I repeat: no justification--of any kind for the type of atrocity that we have witnessed. We must face this as a world together. Our common humanity is confirmed by this tragedy. The citizens of 60 countries were killed. Two hundred Britons died in the attack of 11th September. But, even if they had not, we would still owe it to the world to stand together with the United States because the threat of terrorism is indivisible and we must respond together. There is no third way. Our duty is to root out terrorism and to ensure that those who organise, support and finance it pay such a price that an event such as this will never happen again.
After the attack on the World Trade Centre, some discussion took place in the media as to whether or not it was a day that changed the world. I do not believe that the world changes overnight in that way.
What normally happens is that an event crystallises and makes us perceive a change that has already been taking place gradually. What will be seen as having appeared to change is the balance of power in the world. The one remaining superpower, for all its technological superiority, is revealed as highly vulnerable. It always was, but the fact that that perception is now so widespread is in itself highly dangerous. Other things may change, such as the balance between liberty and the state. The United States' relationship with Israel may also change.
The American reaction to 11th September has been slower in coming than many expected. Contrary to what the critics of the United States suggested, the US Administration has not lashed out. Plainly, a careful strategy is being worked out. If bin Laden's aim was to provoke retaliation against ill-defined and innocent targets, he has failed in that.
The United States has assembled a remarkable coalition of Russia, NATO countries, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Gulf states, as well as acquiescence from China and Iran. That would certainly not have been possible before 11th September. Thanks to careful, patient diplomacy, Afghanistan has been almost completely isolated. The United Arab Emirates withdrew its diplomats and cut diplomatic relations on 22nd September. Saudi Arabia cut its relations three days later. Pakistan is the only country which maintains formal relations, and it has withdrawn its diplomats from Kabul.
Of course, the risk, among many others, in the present situation is that the stability of several highly important countries could be threatened. It would be a disaster if that were to happen in Saudi Arabia, as has already been mentioned. The same applies to Egypt or Pakistan. Therefore, our objective must be to ensure that our strategy proceeds in a way which underpins the stability of those countries. We must also maintain the remarkable coalition that has been so carefully built up. Only if we do that can we use the assistance of those countries in hunting down Al'Qaeda and arresting suspected terrorists all over the world.
The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said that he does not consider it to be the job of the United States to decide who or what should form the next government of Afghanistan. On the other hand, Mr Wolfowitz said that it is the objective of the United States to destroy terrorist states. Of course, the two statements are not inconsistent. Many people would consider the United States to be well within its rights in removing and destroying the Taliban. I am sure that many people living in Afghanistan who have suffered would be pleased and would welcome the removal of a government who are as vicious, objectionable and reactionary as any in the world.
I applaud very much the announcements made today by the Minister and the Leader of the House regarding the humanitarian aid that rightly is to be given to help the people of Afghanistan. However, I believe that difficulties will ensue if we attempt to become too involved in deciding on the successor regime in Afghanistan. Replacing the Taliban by the Northern Alliance may not turn out to be a great step forward. A broad-based coalition, possibly around the former monarch, including the minority ethnic groups, is a different possibility. But our main concern, in so far as we have one, with regard to who should form the government of Afghanistan must be that they do not endanger or threaten our own security.
The best outcome of the immediate crisis concerning bin Laden would have been for the Afghans to resolve the matter themselves. However, that opportunity, if ever it existed, has almost certainly passed. The suggestion made by the Taliban that bin Laden might leave the country voluntarily was rightly and understandably rejected by the United States Government. But it was probably put forward as an intended concession. It probably also indicates that the Taliban is not a united force and that divisions exist there which could be exploited diplomatically.
Perhaps too much pessimism has been expressed about the difficulties of a military operation in Afghanistan. We have been reminded of history and the fate both of the Soviet Union and the British in the 19th century. Of course, if the United States' aim was to occupy and govern Afghanistan, the pessimism would be well justified. However, I consider that there is every reason to believe that a much more limited operation, with limited objectives, can be successful.
It is not only bin Laden and Al'Qaeda against whom action must be taken. A war must be waged on many fronts and in many places, including within our own country. It may be unwelcome to the Government to have to do so but I believe that they will have to revisit much of their human rights legislation and the emphasis that they have put on human rights in their asylum legislation and that relating to immigration, extradition and surveillance. To take one example in this new dangerous world, it seems perverse to ask Egypt, which is itself very much at risk from terrorism, to co-operate with us in the fight against terrorism but to refuse to hand over to that country those who have been convicted in that country of terrorist offences. Co-operation surely has to be a two-way process. Unless we alter our approach in that context, I doubt whether we will get co-operation.
I applaud the emphasis that the Prime Minister and President Bush have put on the fact that this is not a battle with Islam. That point has been made so often that one fears that one may weary people by repeating it. However, it cannot be said too often. There is a risk that the right words will not be heard and that the wrong words will be picked up. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris, referred to President Bush's use of the word, "crusade", which was immediately picked up by bin Laden. Mr Berlusconi's comments about inferior civilisations were not exactly helpful, either, and were probably music to bin Laden's ears. The noble and learned Lord said that those who wrote President Bush's speech did not have an adequate sense of history. I suggest that the same is true of Mr Berlusconi. Even the great city of Venice at one time had to admire the enlightened despotism of the Ottoman Empire. We all know that Islam contributed through Spain to the Renaissance and to our heritage of mathematics and algebra.
Mr bin Laden wants us to believe that Islam is instinctively hostile to the West. However, we must not allow the present situation to become a clash of civilisations; it is not. Many of the Arab states that are most hostile to the West are secular Arab states, such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. Many of the states that are more friendly to us are theocratic, such as Kuwait and the UAE, or fundamentalist, such as Saudi Arabia.
In the aftermath of 11th September, Robert McNamara, the former Defense Secretary under President Kennedy, asked why America is so disliked in the world. Perhaps Americans overstate the hostility to them. It was noticeable that even in Iran there were spontaneous demonstrations of sympathy with the Americans after 11th September. The usual answer that Americans give to Mr McNamara's question is that they are disliked because they are free and rich. I do not believe that Americans are disliked because they are free and rich. Even some of the hijackers seem to have enjoyed wealth and freedom in the United States, and even the Palestinians who applauded the attack on the World Trade Centre probably aspire to American standards of living.
As the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, said in his excellent maiden speech, there are real political reasons why there is resentment of the United States in the Arab and Muslim worlds. From Morocco to Muscat and from Nigeria to Malaysia there is rage, almost to boiling point, at what has been happening in Israel and on the West Bank. I make it crystal clear that I am not suggesting that there is any link between the Palestinian question and the attack on the World Trade Centre. It has been pointed out several times that Mr bin Laden's attack was probably planned some 20 months or so ago, when hopes of the peace process were much higher than they are today.
But if we want to keep intact this coalition, which has been so painstakingly put together, and if we want to isolate the rogue states and terrorist states, we will have to address the Palestinian question. There is real anger about continuing illegal settlements, for which I believe there is no justification whatever, and about the use of heavy weapons such as F-16s and tanks. Of course Israel has suffered and of course there has been Arab intransigence. Mr Arafat does not know when to say yes. He missed an opportunity when he did not take up plans that were put forward by Mr Barak and which were by far the most reasonable that had ever been put on the table.
Surely we can now see that there is a real need to breathe new life into the Middle East peace process. America has used its influence for the short-term purpose of shoring up its coalition but it needs to use its influence for the longer-term purpose of achieving a real lasting settlement in the Middle East. It was noticeable in the Prime Minister's speech at the Labour Party conference that the longest applause came when he referred to the need to address the grievances of the Palestinians. I applaud the fact that President Bush referred--it is the first time that a Republican president has done so--to the need to have an independent Palestinian state so long as Israel's right to exist is recognised.
I support the Government's position. We are involved in a long haul--the struggle will be very long. There may be times when we think that we have won but we shall discover that we have not. The Government will have to come back to this House, and we shall have to renew our efforts. When we do that, they will have our support again and again.
My Lords, as part of the modernisation of this House we have been instructed not to pay what once were the usual compliments to maiden speakers. I shall follow that new convention, but I do so reluctantly because our three maiden speakers are all old friends and colleagues. I cannot resist saying to the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, as one perambulator to another, "Welcome to the pram!".
I was very tempted to discuss the foreign affairs aspects of the issue. The first 20 years of my working life involved foreign affairs. I am well aware that there is considerable expertise in this House relating to the military, diplomatic and international aspects of the present crisis. That was illustrated by the speech of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley. The problem that Ministers have absorbing all of this wise advice was best summed up in two adjacent articles in the Financial Times of 27th September. One was headed,
"The folly of quick action in Afghanistan".
The other was headed,
"We cannot wait to understand".
Both articles contained sound advice. Obviously one of them will be proved right and the other wrong--history and hindsight will tell us which is which. In the meantime, Ministers have to take decisions.
The sureness of touch and clarity of purpose that the Prime Minister showed in his handling of the foreign policy and defence aspects of the crisis have won respect and confidence at home and abroad. I am sure that we all wish him God speed in his journey today.
I shall concentrate, perhaps in a slightly more critical way, on the home affairs and parliamentary aspects of the crisis. If I have a criticism of the Government's handling, it is the approach to the home front. Two short debates in Parliament during this recess have not fulfilled Parliament's proper role in this regard. The absence of a Statement to Parliament by the Home Secretary was also a fault. I understand the situation but no one from the Home Office will speak in this debate or that in the other place. When Parliament reassembles on 15th October, the Home Secretary should make a Statement to the House about the way in which this matter affects his department and related departments.
Already, we have seen one result of the lack of clarity in this area in the muddle surrounding the possible introduction of identity cards. The fact that the idea surfaced came as no surprise to me. To my certain knowledge, the Home Office has toyed with the idea for the past 30 years, and perhaps longer. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, advanced a spirited argument in favour of identity cards. I suspect that we shall hear one or two arguments to the contrary as the debate rolls out.
Our history is littered with examples of governments responding to a particular crisis by introducing measures that restrict individual freedom and civil liberties without having any real impact on the threat at hand. In response to the outrages of 11th September, there is a natural temptation to rush through authoritarian legislation, even though the Government only recently gave themselves considerable powers via the most recent immigration and terrorism Acts and the surveillance powers contained in the RIP Act. So let us remember at this point that our statute book is not exactly lacking in powers for our security services to do their job. We shall measure any new proposals against the pledge given by the Home Secretary yesterday at the Labour Party conference. He said:
"I do not believe in passing laws just to give the impression we are doing something. The Bills we will put before Parliament will focus on practical measures which will deter and disrupt the work of terrorists in Britain".
It will certainly be the practicality of measures, along with their compatibility with our international obligations, civil liberties and human rights, by which we shall judge these proposals. But until we see the detail, the Government must not assume that such legislation will go through on the nod.
That said, we recognise that those who hate and despise our liberal values are capable of using the very laws and liberties that underpin our society for their own perverted ends. The struggle against well organised, well financed international terrorism cannot be waged with a purist defence of civil liberties. As we have seen in Northern Ireland, there sometimes has to be a trade-off between effective justice and the ideals of civil liberty. But when we come to consider action on the home front, "a proportionate response" is as good a guideline as when considering international action.
It is not only civil liberties that can be misused by the sophisticated terrorist. As we have heard a number of times, not least in the robust Statement repeated by the Leader of the House, one area where action is urgently needed is in the realm of money laundering, which is the lubricant of both international terrorism and organised crime.
Before the recess, while examining the question of money laundering, I visited most of the agencies concerned. My main interest at that time was how it impacted on drugs cartels and the abuses of organised crime. What the various authorities told me convinced me that we are far too lax in our supervision of these matters. It is not simply a question of the need to tighten control on bureaux de change. Banks, law firms, accountancy firms and others have for far too long taken the attitude that they are not private detective agencies and that the source and purpose of various transactions are no business of theirs. That approach is no longer acceptable. Along with a tightening of our laws must go an extension of professional responsibility as well as a far more robust approach to international co-operation in these matters.
Again, while not demanding an instant response, it is important to know whether the new dimensions of international terrorism are being absorbed into the review that is under way. Are steps in hand to study and learn from the experience of New York in terms of building construction, evacuation plans, the deployment of emergency services, and so on? When do the Government expect legislation to replace the Civil Defence Act 1948? Will it be brought forward earlier in the light of the new circumstances? Will the proposals include new powers relating to attack by chemical or biological weapons? Will there be specific government assistance to help improve in-flight security? Will there be restrictions, temporary or permanent, on the over-flying of parts of London or of sensitive areas such as those around nuclear power stations? Before the noble Lord, Lord Bach, sends messages to his officials, I realise that the issues that I have raised are not for answer in this debate. But this is yet another illustration that there are some big issues, civil defence being one, in relation to which a full and thorough debate in this House would be extremely useful on the basis of an early statement of government intentions. There are other areas of expertise in this House in relation to civil defence matters.
I turn to another matter with slightly more confidence following the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours--namely, the security services. I speak with some trepidation as I realise, looking at the list of speakers, that the noble Baroness, Lady Park, is on the horizon with her guns unmasked. As with draconian laws, so it is with our secret services: there is a temptation at a time of crisis to grant more funding and less accountability. Ministers of all parties are quickly seduced by the glamour of "for your eyes only" briefings. But Parliament must not be excluded from a proper scrutiny of these matters.
I agree with a comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. The wider parliamentary scrutiny that he advocated would strengthen, not weaken, the operational effectiveness of the services. In any case, there is surely a need to deal with the lack of co-ordination that has surfaced. As was stated in The Times on 28th September,
"Hindsight underlines blame but clarifies the need for action. In Britain co-ordination between a dozen agencies, including MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Special Branch, Scotland Yard, the National Crime Squad, Customs and Immigration Services needs to be swifter and tighter".
That may be a harsh judgment, but it is essential that we attempt to learn the lessons of 11th September and that we take a long, hard look at the performance and effectiveness of our secret services at that time. I repeat my belief that Parliament should be involved in that scrutiny.
No one underestimates the heavy burden of responsibility that Ministers carry at this time. But there is no doubt in my mind that if their measures hit the target--if they cut off the life-blood of laundered money; if they prevent abuse of legal processes; if they track and disrupt the activities and movements which enable terrorist attacks to be mounted--then Parliament, reflecting a public will, will vote for the powers and resources to fight and win the battle against terrorism. That fight can be won. My old trade union mentor, Joe Gormley, used to say, "Don't build platforms for malcontents to stand on". As has been illustrated in the debate, in terms of aid policy and crisis resolution, not least in the Middle East, the problem is that the West has allowed platforms to be built on which malcontents are standing.
In the second Financial Times article that I mentioned, Samuel Brittan quoted Gladstone:
"The resources of civilisation are not yet exhausted".
And so they are not. The capacity of liberal democracies to respond to attack with unity of purpose and resolve while retaining the freedoms and civil liberties that mark them out as civilised societies remains our enduring strength. Part of that strength must be the continuing willingness of Parliament to do its duty by scrutinising legislation and calling the executive to account.
Since I started by poking a little gentle fun at the Financial Times, let me give the last word to its editorial of 2nd October. It said about government requests for extended powers:
"A tough test must be applied. Would they really stop a determined terrorist? In the case of the September 11th atrocity, the answer is probably 'no'. Visas could be forged, unmonitored phones found and new money channels arranged. These objections should not be a reason for inaction, but a glance back to the history of the McCarthy witch-hunts of Communists and, more recently, the nefarious activities of the CIA should be a reminder of the need for careful scrutiny of the details. Power corrupts. And an excess of it can be dangerous even at times of pressing need."
I would describe such an approach as constructive scepticism, and that will be our approach when the Government bring forward their proposals.
My Lords, there can be no doubt that it was right to recall Parliament for a second time after the short period that has elapsed since we were last recalled. The mood of the House today is rather different from what it was then. There was then real and understandable concern that the United States might act too quickly--might lash out, to use the phrase used by the Leader of the House. Happily, that did not happen. There has been time for thought and reflection, and I suspect that we are all extremely relieved about that.
Military intervention in Afghanistan may yet prove necessary. If it does, I personally will have no difficulty on that score. The justification in international law for intervention was clearly spelled out during our previous sitting by the noble and learned Lords, Lord Howe and Lord Mayhew, and the noble Lord, Lord Brennan. It was echoed again this morning by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, in his maiden speech--on which I too congratulate him.
We all accept that self-defence is a proper justification in conventional war. The principle of self-defence must apply equally in disarming terrorists who have declared war on the United States in word as well as in deed and who are currently claiming the protection of a foreign state. I have no difficulty with that. I understand that doubt has been expressed by a distinguished judge, Judge Goldstone, but I have not myself read what he had to say; and until I have, I shall say no more.
I turn to the legislative response which, of course, was the subject of my report back in 1995. All I need say is that we should all be extremely glad that we now have firmly on the statute book the Terrorism Act 2000, which came into force this March. On that the Government are surely to be congratulated. I add that, in my experience, we now have the best--certainly the most recent--anti-terrorist legislation in the world. It is certainly better than that of the United States. My only concern--to which I shall return later--is whether we are making the fullest possible use of the current provisions before we consider further legislation.
I am especially glad that the Government were persuaded--after a good deal of hesitation, let it be said--to include international terrorist groups among those proscribed under Section 3 of the Act. How foolish we would look today if we were only now taking steps to proscribe Al'Qaeda, but it is at the head of the list of terrorist groups proscribed under Schedule 2 in March.
We are assured that there will be new legislation, and of course we shall consider it carefully when it is placed before us. In my view, it is best to wait to see what legislation is proposed, rather than to anticipate it today. All that I will say is that I have an instinctive dislike--perhaps distrust would be a better word--of legislation that is proposed under the pressure of events. We all remember the tough new measures that were promised after the Omagh bombing. We all remember that those measures--still incorporated in the Terrorism Act 2000, I am sorry to say--have proved almost completely useless. So far as I know, there has not been a single conviction under those measures--certainly not of the Omagh bombers. We all agree that the first and main task is to bring to justice those who instigated and inspired--those are not technical legal terms--the terrible crime that was committed. The actual perpetrators of the crime, let us not forget, have already put themselves beyond the reach of human justice. That point is so obvious that it needs no elaboration. But a second, nagging question is almost as important: could we have done more to prevent that crime? Many people have already said that the events of 11th September changed the world. I fear that that is only half the truth. The truth is that the world had already changed, but we had failed to recognise that.
That brings me to the remarkable speech made at our last sitting by the noble Lord, Lord Owen, in which he said that for 20 years we have failed to do all that we could to prevent the scourge of international terrorism. He was right, and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, made much the same point in his maiden speech today. The noble Lord, Lord Owen, accepted some responsibility for that, but it is fair to add that the responsibility lies elsewhere as well. Above all, it lies in the United States itself, which had not woken up--heaven knows, it should have done--to what was on the cards. If there were any doubt about that, it was clearly explained in an article by Andrew Sullivan in last week's Sunday Times.
As for us in the United Kingdom, our eye may have been taken off the ball of international terrorism by the scourge of domestic terrorism in Northern Ireland. We may for too long have regarded the spread of communism as the main threat to national security. But whatever the reason, the evidence was there. It was traced in great detail in an annex to my report by Professor Paul Wilkinson of St Andrews University. He points to the growth of international terrorism since the late 1960s which by the late 1970s had become a positive torrent.
Until the 1970s the terrorist groups had political ends in mind. But by the end of the 1970s we were seeing a new form of terrorism, that of the extreme, religious variety. Some also had political aims in mind; for instance, in Algeria and in the Middle East. But some of the religious extremists had no end in mind that we can understand other than the commission of violence for its own sake. Those are chilling words, but they are true.
In 1993 there was a failed attack on the World Trade Centre. I say the attack failed. It caused many casualties but did not actually destroy the building, which is no doubt what was intended. There had already been the hijacking in Marseilles, which was foiled at the last moment and which, if it had not been foiled, would have resulted in huge destruction in Paris.
There was already an ample supply of terrorists who were prepared to sacrifice themselves in carrying out their purposes. The World Trade Centre was such an obvious target. I do not know whether Professor Wilkinson foresaw what happened, but in an article he wrote in June of this year he came very near to doing so. The evidence was there. The writing was on the wall. We just did not take it in.
What can we do now? Of course we must improve our airport security. Of course we must improve security on the flight deck. But things of that kind smack rather of Mrs Partington. I cannot believe that the new brand of terrorist will be deterred by such measures--I do not say we should not take them--or that they will be put off for want of an identity card. It is not the world in which they live. It was suggested on the last occasion by the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, that we need a new convention. I have to say to the noble Lord that we have had 12 conventions since 1963, the most recent being in 1997 and 1999, one dealing with terrorist bombing and, surprise surprise, the other dealing with terrorist finance. When one is dealing with fanatics who believe that they are divinely inspired and morally justified in doing what they have to do, and are prepared to destroy themselves in the process of carrying out those tasks; when one is dealing with what the right reverend Prelate called "apocalyptic terrorists", it is difficult to believe that another convention will deter them.
What can we do? We can do only one thing; that is, use the intelligence services. We need more intelligence, better intelligence and intelligence on an entirely different level. We need intelligence of the kind for which we would be looking if we were engaged in a conventional war. That brings me to another remarkable speech which was made on the last occasion, that of the noble Baroness, Lady Park. I am glad to see that she will speak again today. I was surprised and disappointed that nobody took up her point until, at the end of the day, it was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Roper. We need people who are able to infiltrate the terrorist movements to find out who they are and what they have in mind. We need more brave men and women. The personal risks are huge and of course there is no public recognition of any kind. We need human intelligence, not signals intelligence.
If I had been asked on 12th September what we can do to reassure, comfort and support the United States, I would have said we need to double or even treble the sums we spend on the security services. That is where the solution lies. The Government have already said that there is to be some increase. I cannot recall what the figure was, but I suspect it will be peanuts in comparison to what is really needed.
I have said enough but should like to leave the Minister with a few questions. We read that the FBI has already issued or procured the issuing of a number of provisional warrants for the arrest of subjects in the United Kingdom. I should like to know how many arrests there have been or how many are anticipated. It may be difficult to answer that. But one would also like to know why those arrests are only being made now and were not made before the events of 11th September.
Section 41 of the Terrorism Act, which the Minister knows well, contains "draconian"--I dislike that word but cannot think of any other--provisions which enable us to arrest and question terrorist suspects. Those provisions go to the verge of what is permissible under the Human Rights Act and maybe even beyond, though I should perhaps not say that. To what extent have those provisions been used in the past five years? In my report I set out the figures for the 10 years from 1986 to 1995. May we have the figures from 1995 to 2001? I imagine they are available. I should not think there is a security problem in giving that information.
Can the Minister say to what extent any arrest which would otherwise have been made, has not been made because of our rule that evidence obtained by telephone intercept is not allowed in court? Again, I do not want names, but the numbers would be of great interest to the House. If we can have that information, it will do much to reassure the House that all that possibly can be done under our existing legislation is being done before we look at any new legislation.
My Lords, as the first speaker from these Benches following the admirable and remarkable maiden speeches of my three new noble friends, may I say how very much we welcome them to our ranks and look forward to hearing from them in the future? I shall say a little more about the speech of my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours in the course of my remarks. I shall concentrate on the domestic security measures for which the Government will seek the approval of Parliament in the next few weeks.
In the debate on 14th September, I raised the issue of airline and airport security and drew attention to the need for greater international supervision of security arrangements at airports abroad. Yesterday's figures from British Airways and the plight of Swissair show the collapse in passenger confidence in air travel since 11th September. It will take some time for the public's faith in flying to be restored. A major international effort will be required to tighten up security and to reduce the risk of hijack.
Measures have already been taken in the United States to increase cabin security, with plans to make cockpit doors bullet-proof and to appoint air marshals in the passenger area. I suspect that we may need to look at similar arrangements for European and domestic flights. Such security enhancements should not require legislation and I hope that they can be proceeded with as rapidly as possible.
However, we shall have some very important proposals presented to us, as we have already heard today. The promised all-party support for the Bills to tackle asylum abuse, to speed up the extradition of suspects wanted abroad, to strengthen the law on racial and religious hatred and to tackle money laundering is welcome. I listened to the Home Secretary on "The World at One" yesterday. His proposals for clarifying the arrangements for economic migrants and the introduction of new work permits, the treatment of asylum seekers and the extension of the racial incitement laws to cover religious hatred and discrimination all sounded humane and very sensible. I wish him and the Government well in introducing them, particularly if, at the same time, they are able to abolish the humiliating voucher scheme for asylum seekers.
I hope that we can be reassured that in their determination to speed up extradition procedures, Ministers will carefully consider the human rights standards in the legal systems of the countries to which people may be sent and that they will seek absolute commitments that the persons extradited will not face the death penalty there.
There will also be widespread support for the measures that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced to tackle money laundering and to seize terrorist assets that pass through the European banking system to finance fresh operations, about which the noble Lord, Lord McNally, spoke. At the heart of that process are the bureaux de change. The Treasury estimates that between £3 billion and £4 billion a year leaves this country through that route and that 65 per cent of the money has been acquired illegally. Much of it comes through the drugs trade. With Afghanistan supplying perhaps 75 per cent of the world's heroin and as much as 90 per cent of the heroin on sale on the streets of this country, and Osama bin Laden's involvement in drug trafficking being proved as almost total, the relevance of that measure in the context of tackling terrorism is obvious.
The United Kingdom is unique in the European Union in not regulating bureaux de change. Since 1979, when exchange controls were abolished, anyone has been able to set one up and operate without a licence. The National Criminal Intelligence Service was quoted in the Financial Times last week as saying:
"The role of these organisations in criminal activity and terrorism has been recognised for a long time. It is just very easy to move money through them."
A typical transaction is to take a bundle of dirty £5 and £10 notes--perhaps the proceeds of a shop robbery or some drug dealing on the streets--to a bureau de change and change them into high value foreign currency. With the 500 euro note becoming available in January--that is £310 in our present money--the scope for that trade will widen further and the trail will lead back to the drug traffickers. Of course, the bureaux are supposed to look out for dodgy transactions and report them, but they are not likely to do that if they are part of the racket themselves. Only the legitimate bureaux put in reports.
The Performance and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office produced a report in June 2000 entitled Recovering the Proceeds of Crime. The chapter dealing with tightening the regime on money laundering recommended the introduction of a licensing system for bureaux de change, money transmitters and cheque cashers. The sooner a proper licensing system and regulation by the Financial Services Authority are applied to bureaux de change, the better. That would make breaches of the 1993 money laundering regulations easier to prosecute and would raise the number of suspicious transaction reports made to NCIS. The FSA tells me that it supports the introduction of a regulatory regime for such money service businesses to improve compliance with the criminal law.
Finally, I turn to an issue that has attracted a lot of public and media attention in the weeks since 11th September--identity cards. There has perhaps been rather too much heat and not enough light on the issue. The debate was started most recently by the Home Secretary in an interview with the BBC on 23rd September, when he said that the Government were considering their introduction,
"in the context of entitlement to citizenship".
He specifically did not say that he saw a huge role for ID cards in the fight against terrorism, nor did he give any impression that they would form part of a range of immediate internal security measures following the events of 11th September. Despite that, his comment generated an extraordinary amount of interest. The News of the World published a MORI opinion poll that claimed that 86 per cent of British people supported the introduction of identity cards to help the police to fight crime. Seventy seven per cent said that cards would help to identify illegal immigrants and 60 per cent said that they would help to fight terrorism.
Civil liberty groups were outraged. Liberty and Charter 88 launched a cross-party campaign to block ID cards and enlisted various political luminaries and trade union leaders, plus some prominent members of the Muslim community to oppose them. There was also a lot of press comment, with prominent journalists coming down on one side or the other with lots of anecdotes about what happened when they were compulsory in wartime and post-war Britain and how they came to be abolished in 1952.
On 26th September, David Blunkett said that he would not make a snap decision and it became obvious that their introduction would not be included in any legislation that we shall be asked to consider in the next few weeks as a response to the terrorist attacks.
So what are we to make of all this? We should take these various expressions of opinion at face value and recognise that we shall not have an emergency Bill to introduce identity cards immediately as an anti-terrorist measure. As my noble friend Lord Rooker said at a fringe meeting in Brighton on Monday, reported by the BBC, if they are introduced it will not be a criminal offence not to carry one and the police will not be given the power to stop people in the street and demand to see an ID card. There is no reason why they should be used in a discriminatory way against any section of the community that is legally entitled to live and work in this country. If we followed the practice in France, it would not even be compulsory for each citizen to possess an identity card. There the cards are a useful, but not essential, feature of the state system. Students taking national exams in French secondary schools and those taking university exams are required to produce their card. They are also used to validate identity when people go to vote and to prove who someone is if they are arrested.
Is there not a huge civil liberties issue here? I no longer think so. When I was brought up, in the 1950s, the identity card was seen by my parents in the same light as the ration book and the clothing and food coupons--necessary measures in war time but things to be got rid of when normality returned. There was also a feeling that identity cards were un-British and part of a continental culture in which police officers could regularly stop people and demand to see their papers--shades of films that we used to see in post-war British cinema, I suspect.
All that is light years away from today's world of plastic credit cards, bank cards, membership cards for the gym or tennis club, supermarket loyalty cards, rail cards, bus passes, frequent traveller air cards and now even a photofit driving licence the size of a credit card. When people arrive at work many have to insert a card into a machine to get admitted. It records who they are and it will often bring up a photograph on a security monitor. It will keep a record of when they entered and left the building. Noble Lords have something rather similar to that to gain admittance to this building and to their offices outside.
So is it not time to recognise that this debate has moved on? Would it not be sensible to look at how modern smart card technology can produce an ID system which is genuinely useful with a card which can instal palm prints, fingerprints, eye retina patterns and photographs and images of a huge range of personal data including blood group, medical history, medication records, organ donor preferences and so on. It would be possible to separate the data and provide access by a series of different codes with the individual choosing how much to put on it.
If there is a healthy relationship between the citizen and the police there is no reason why the voluntary carrying of an indentity card should turn us into a police state. The scale of alienation among ethnic minorities towards the police will not depend on whether there is an ID card system in place. If there is a problem of mistrust it has to be dealt with, but that is not an ID card issue. However, the economic migrants who are encouraged to come here and work and to whom the Home Secretary promised a new deal yesterday could feel just that much more secure with an official ID card showing who they are and confirming their entitlement to be here and to live and work equally with everyone else.
In preparing for this debate I looked at Hansard for earlier occasions when identity cards were discussed. Your Lordships are nothing if not consistent on this issue. Almost every year since the early 1990s there has been a debate on an Unstarred Question and a regular flow of Starred Questions. The current prize for consistency and determination on this issue goes to the noble Baroness, Lady Sharples, who has asked two Starred Questions already this year and one last year. In the other place the most persistent campaigner, until the June election, was the Member for Workington, now happily with us in this House and making his maiden speech very largely on this subject today.
Identity cards will not stop all terrorists. They will not eliminate all crime. They may not make much difference to illegal immigration. They will not completely wipe out benefit fraud. But they might make all of those things just a little bit harder. For those reasons I am prepared to admit that I have changed my mind about ID cards and I am prepared to support their introduction.
My Lords, I have never been one to refuse a challenge from the noble Lord, Lord McNally. However, I am delighted to be able to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, to this House because I know that he will be able to confirm the fairly well-known fact, although apparently not to the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that the security services are fully accountable and that they work to an agenda set for them by government. Curiously enough, agents about to put their lives in danger have an astonishing preference for working for a service which is going to protect their integrity and privacy and indeed their very existence. I am deeply grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, for saying those things much better than I could. I have always greatly admired his reports on Northern Ireland for their integrity and clear-sightedness. He has demonstrated that once again.
On 14th September the Prime Minister said that we have to understand the nature of the enemy and act accordingly, and to look at the links between terror and crime, adding that this form of terror knows no mercy, no pity, and no boundary. He said also that the most basic liberty of all is the right of ordinary citizens to go about their business free from fear or terror. He could have been speaking of Northern Ireland and the IRA or of the other exercise in terror and intimidation being conducted by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe under the benevolent eye of his friend, Qaddafi, also the friend of the IRA. But he was not. He was speaking of another group of terrorists.
In turning away to the new threat we are now rightly addressing, I beg that we do not forget that precisely because terror is international, Sinn Fein/IRA is not a petty domestic nuisance; it is a professional and dangerous organisation. Sinn Fein's recent conference was attended by ETA, the Basque terrorist group. PIRA contacts with terrorists in Colombia were taking place recently at the very moment of Sinn Fein's latest sanctimonious claim to be pondering about how to decommission, though never when. The IRA has recently been in touch with a terrorist group in Turkey and it is still no doubt importing new arms from Bosnia and other quarters. Its operations are financed by hijacking, drug dealing and extortion from victims within its own community.
The RUC's Special Branch contribution to the intelligence we all need on international terrorism remains essential and yet, as well as being amalgamated with the CID, it has already lost this year, as part of the new plans for policing Northern Ireland, 10 per cent of its officers. It was due last month to lose 50 per cent of the branch including its skilled support units. Yet even the Patten report concluded that the police service must remain equipped to check and deal with terrorist activity and the Belfast agreement provides that whatever changes are made must be consistent with the level of threat.
I urge the Government to consider the consequences of the drastic cuts in Special Branch on our level of protection against terrorism. The RUC itself has already lost over 1,000 experienced officers in order to make way for green recruits so that more Catholics may, in theory, enter the force. Are the Government still considering Sinn Fein/IRA's demand that the paramilitaries released from prison under the agreement should be eligible to be members of the new police service, including the district policing partnership? To do so would flout the recommendations of the independent commission on policing and the Patten report published only in August, which confirms the Patten report's own strong statement that it
"emphatically did not consider that people with serious criminal or terrorist backgrounds should be considered for police service"
Concession after concession has been made to Sinn Fein/IRA on policing. The RUC is one of its main targets for destruction. It has refused to join the police board; it has refused to tell catholics that they may join and, in Gerry Adams' own contemptuous phrase,
"If they join we shall treat them as we have always treated the RUC".
That is Sinn Fein/IRA-speak for "We shall kill them as we have always killed the police".
For the first time our Government, who are evidently prepared to take many drastic and courageous actions in the fight against terrorism, are in a position to make demands on the IRA and not concessions to them. In the new climate Sinn Fein/IRA dare not risk its future relationship with the United States. It is probably in some trouble with its own government in Dublin. It is in serious trouble with the Americans who are, I greatly hope, putting IRA fund-raising on its blacklist. It cannot afford to attack the RUC because it cannot afford to be seen to be the only obstacle in the peace process, either on decommissioning or on making the new police force effective.
When the RUC and the Garda, despite all the special terrorist legislation which we passed at the time, as the noble and learned Lord also observed, could not bring the known perpetators of the Omagh murders to court because no witness dared testify. Gerry Adams was asked to tell them that they were free to co-operate without fear of reprisal. He refused because he
"did not recognise British justice".
He was then a Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, by the will of the people a part of the United Kingdom. However, he had no trouble in recognising the Bloody Sunday inquiry, which has cost £40 million to date. There will never be a better opportunity to put the blame for the failure of the peace process where it belongs. We must insist, when it comes to decommissioning--should there be any--that any fresh so-called inspection should be conducted by the two serving officers available, as required under the mandate of the commission, from the Canadian armed forces and the US Army, both experts on arms, explosives and explosive ordnance disposal. The duty of inspection or verification should be conducted by trained observers, not by two elderly and purblind politicians. The age of some of the weapons handed in in Macedonia recently in Operation Task Force Harvest, suggests that this would be only a sensible provision.
On the one hand we have an intransigent movement which, despite gaining amazing dividends from exploiting the peace process, voted at the Sinn Fein rally last week not even to put any arms beyond use by concreting them over, let alone handing them in. On the other hand, the people of the Republic of Ireland, in a current opinion poll, voted to equate Omagh with New York for horror (70 per cent of the poll). Eighty-five per cent of the poll voted that the IRA should decommission.
The SDLP, not Sinn Fein/IRA, now represents Catholic feeling in Northern Ireland and it has come on board on the police issue. The SDLP has no guns under the table. Sinn Fein/IRA should be ignored. The Government have shown courage and energy in reacting to the international threat. I greatly respect that. Let them now treat Sinn Fein/IRA as the irrelevant dinosaur that it now is politically, except in two important respects. It is still a threat as a terrorist organisation, as are the loyalist paramilitaries. Even jackals have nasty bites. Both have been allowed for too long to make the lives of their own communities dangerous, life-threatening and hateful. They should be pursued as the criminals that they too often are.
I turn briefly to another continent and another manifestation of terrorism--the terrible situation in Zimbabwe. I am encouraged to do so because of the Prime Minister's very positive references to Africa. My feeling is that as a country, we need to commit ourselves to doing some positive and immediate good for the poor and the persecuted, as well as attacking the evil men of violence.
Mugabe is such a man. The cancellation of the Commonwealth Conference, which I deeply regret, for it would have spoken for 54 nations, is enabling him to renege--as we always knew he would--on the Abuja agreement, without being called to account. If it is true that he is not only allowing the violence to continue, but refuses to let the International Red Cross go in to feed and shelter the thousands of refugees from the farms in the terrible plight to which he has reduced them--his own people--it must surely be our aim, through the African countries, to force the Zimbabwe Government to restore and maintain law and order. Destabilisation of the whole of southern Africa, as well as the Congo and surrounding states, is staring us in the face. That is as important and dangerous as destabilisation elsewhere. Daunting tasks face us and are a great strain on our limited resources, both human and material.
We should not dissipate our efforts too much, of course, but this terrible crisis has a positive side too. It puts Sinn Fein/IRA's political status into perspective and on the defensive. In Africa, the human tragedy could offer the Commonwealth, which has been hitherto so supine, a unique opportunity to be a positive force for good and to play its part in the battle for human rights. The Commonwealth must justify its existence.
We shall yet again commit our peerless Armed Forces. It is time for others, from the EU and the Commonwealth to the UN, to make their contribution to humanitarian aid at least. I do not believe that we can do everything at once, yet we need a Marshall Plan to be set up now, rather than wait for the outcome of what could be a long and difficult campaign. I hope that we shall ensure that there are generous defence resources to match the need of the Armed Forces and the intelligence services. We need them all and they must be accorded the importance and priority that they deserve, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, said. They will be our most significant contribution to the struggle. This is no longer the time to speak of refocusing the defence budget. The Treasury termites must not be allowed to eat away at the fabric of our defences.
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Park, speak, not least because we share past experiences. I share some, but am bound to say not all, of her conclusions from those joint experiences.
I rather agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, and am a little surprised that the talking is still going on. I am encouraged in parts, but perhaps a little worried, too, that it may mean that the coalition is not quite as strong in all corners as we might have been led to believe. We all understand that shortly we shall be forced to turn to the grim prospect of sterner measures, and it is to some of those that I shall direct my brief speech today.
I shall not speculate on military action, which is at best folly, and at worst dangerous. I recall when I fought in the little wars of the 1960s and 1970s in the Far and Middle East that we used to have a phrase, "Big thumbs on little maps; that's the way to kill the chaps." I regret our propensity for armchair generalships from safe studios and armchairs a long way from where the action will take place.
Nevertheless, at least some of the broad aims of the action that we might have to take are now fairly clear. The first is to do whatever is necessary and reasonable--I underline the latter--to take action that will assuage the pain of the United States. We should not be surprised at military action being taken for a political purpose, as it has happened before. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, said that it may be necessary to have some kind of firework display. Empty buildings and long deserted camps will be appearing on CNN screens, but provided that it is done proportionately, that there are few or, hopefully, no civilian casualties and that there is good justice, I suspect the fact that it will have little or no military purpose is not something that we should cavil too much about if it gives the leadership of the United States the political room to conduct the longer campaign. It is crucial that if that has to happen, it is specific or limited enough to comply with our second aim, which is to hold together the international coalition at least at its core elements, which is undoubtedly our most valuable asset in tackling this issue.
Thirdly, what shall we do in or with Afghanistan? It would not be right to exclude any form of action. It is unwise to tell a potential enemy what we shall not do. We made that mistake with Milosevic, so we should not repeat it in Afghanistan. There are certain important issues to bear in mind.
One of the themes of my speech today is the importance of history and understanding it with regard to Afghanistan. Whatever range of actions we wish to take, the primary action should be to work on the fissures and to open up the divisions in Afghanistan, rather than act to coagulate those disparate forces, which for more than 200 years have fought an almost constant civil war among themselves when they have not been united against an external enemy. We should not be helping them to unite. There is an Afghan--indeed, Pushtun--phrase which states, "Brother fights brother; brother and brother fight cousin; but brothers and cousins fight together against the world if it comes knocking at your door determined to break it down and enter your house". The British have learnt the wisdom of that phrase with some pain, to which I shall refer later, as have the Russians. History is important in Afghanistan and it needs to be understood.
Our primary weight of action ought to be something simple--to help the Afghans themselves to clean up their own country. That would be the primary purpose of what we might seek to do. In order to do that, we have almost an embarrass de richesse--too many opportunities, some of which also carry dangers. There are many in Afghanistan who oppose the Taliban with force. There are two or three thousand under Ismail Khan in the area of the great city of Herat; there are 50,000 Shia in the Bamian areas; and General Abdul Dostan has about 7,000 Uzbeks. General Dostan's position has been much enhanced in the past by changing sides almost as often as we might change our shirts. He may have different alliances every day, but his aim is always the same--to preserve the Uzbeks from the domination of either the Tajiks in the north or the Pushtun in the south.
There is also the main body of the Northern Alliance under General Fahim, perhaps 15,000 people who now hold territory to within mortar range of Kabul itself. The temptation is to throw our weight entirely behind these forces, but that would be an error. If at this stage we simply help to rearrange the polarity in Kabul from being Pushtun dominated to Tajik dominated, we shall be incorporating in the peace that comes after that the ingredients of the continuing civil war that has been its cause.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell, asked about the kind of government. If it is either a uniquely Tajik government, or uniquely Pushtun, as it is currently under the Taliban, that will be a disaster for the kind of settled peaceful Afghanistan that we wish to see.
It is very important that we do not pick up the temptation simply to support the Northern Alliance; we must be even handed. Indeed, it would be a disaster if, when the Taliban falls, which I believe it will as fissures are already showing, the Northern Alliance were to take its opportunity and capture Kabul. We must be careful about that danger. In my view, even-handedness in our work with the Afghans in the project of cleaning up Afghanistan is very important. In that respect, the key lies in the tribes south of Kabul; between Kabul and the Afghan borders. They are known as the kingmakers. The tribes which lie between the Kunar Valley, Jalalabad, Gandalak and the borders of Kabul have made the kings in Kabul.
At about this time of year in 1842 my great grandmother set off from Peshawar marching to join her husband in Kabul, little knowing that she was walking straight into what we now know as the first Afghan war. She was among a tiny handful who returned to India with her life when 16,000 were killed in the subsequent events. I tell that story not because she is related to me but because of the important fact that the punitive expedition--they were allowed to use such words in Victorian days--for that atrocity did not take place until 36 years later. And we talk about strategic patience! Although we know of the victories of Lord Roberts of Kandahar--he took Kandahar as his name in this place--the reality is that those victories were achieved only as a result of the long patient work of the then Viceroy of India, Lord Lytton, to put together precisely those diplomatic arrangements in precisely those tribes to whom we now look to remove the Taliban. I believe that as we speak they are beginning to come together and that fissures are growing which will help in that process. That is where we should direct our aim and efforts.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell, asked what kind of government we should have and that was reflected by my noble friend Lady Williams. For reasons which I have explained, I hope that it will not be dominated by either of the two groups. It must be representative of the various ethnic groups which make up the warring state which we call Afghanistan; the Pushtuns, the Tajiks, the Uzbeks and the Hazara who are the left-overs of Genghis Khan's Mongol hoards. I believe that sensibly directed that can be done. It happened in the past and it can happen again. I believe that the king will have a part to play in that but he must be invited in. He has a titular role to play. I suspect that the Loya Jerga will meet and may well call for him to come forward. That will be a useful outcome.
However, as my noble friend Lady Williams rightly asked, is that the end of the matter? I do not believe that it should be. The preservation of the neutrality of Afghanistan is vitally important for two reasons. One is a matter of principle to me and the other is a matter of real politics. It has been a convention, I hope soon to become a practice, of international intervention in recent years that when a coalition of the willing comes together to enforce international law the result is always invested in the United Nations afterwards. It happened untidily in the case of Iraq; it happened tentatively in the case of Bosnia; and it happened much more precisely in the cases of Kosovo and East Timor. It is right that if we have to take this action the result will be invested in the United Nations. That gives it a role to play, it reduces the sense of hegemony with which that might be regarded by people who are not involved, and, above all, it strengthens the United Nations itself. It will not be easy. I cannot imagine many people wanting to put troops into Afghanistan and I cannot imagine it being easy to explain to Afghanis why they should be there in order to support a UN protectorate. We may have to find other ways of doing that. However, it seems to me important that we should.
The other reason is the realpolitik. It would be mad if we were to underestimate Russia's deep sense of neuralgia about the status of Afghanistan. Again, history comes into play. Looking at the Soviet/Afghan war and our response to it, it is easy to see it as a replay of the attitudes of the great game of the 19th century--on both sides. In my view, it would be a disaster if the end of Afghanistan as perceived from Moscow was that we had done in Afghanistan what we previously did in its territory of the Balkans-- that is, move into its area of influence and take it over--and if what came about in Afghanistan at the end of the day was not a neutral Afghanistan under the United Nations but a replay by the West of the British forward policy of the 19th century.
That is why I believe my noble friend Lady Williams makes an important point in asking whether the UN has a role to play in ensuring neutrality in Afghanistan and in ensuring that we boost the activities of the UN in any final solution reached on this occasion by the coalition of the willing, which includes, I hope, many in Afghanistan.
My final brief point is this: for God sake, at this time let us not forget the cause of the ordinary people of Afghanistan. This is not of their making. They are not responsible for the Taliban. The Taliban have been visited upon them by Pakistan, largely encouraged by ourselves. The ordinary Afghani is not a fundamentalist. Afghanis wear their Islam religion very lightly. The practice of the Taliban will be as alien and distasteful to them as I suspect it is to many of us. Above all, they are not responsible for this infection of Arab terrorism they now find in their midst which brings upon them the wrath of the most powerful of the world on their shattered houses and their barren fields.
They are not responsible for this; if anyone is, we are. In operating the principle during the Soviet/Afghan war we said, "My enemy's enemy is my friend" and we helped Osama bin Laden to get himself established. It is not just a means of getting rid of the causes of fundamentalism, poverty and destitution--these people have been wrecked by 30 years of war. That is why, marching hand in hand with whomever we must reluctantly walk on the military front, there must also be a major programme of aid and reconstruction. We must give back to these people decent lives so that they can live in a civilised manner and, we hope, in a peaceful state.
It is history again. Exactly at the time when the punitive expedition was being sent in to avenge the deaths which my great grandmother witnessed and from which she escaped, Gladstone had the courage to stand up in his Mid Lothian campaign in a general election. While Lord Roberts was going into Kandahar he uttered words which ought to reflect down the ages and echo in our ears today. He said,
"Do not forget that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows is no less inviolate to the eye of Almighty God as can be your own. Do not forget that He made you brothers in the same flesh and blood, bound you by the laws of mutual love".
That law is not limited by the shores of this island or the boundaries of Christendom but it passes across the whole surface of the earth, encompassing the greatest along with the meanest in its unmeasured scope. History is important in Afghanistan and we should learn from it.
My Lords, I speak as one who is a Christian by conviction and who day by day consistently works for the wellbeing of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish communities within my diocese. As such, I want to record my admiration for the Prime Minister's repeated insistence that the horrors of 11th September and the loathsome nature of the Taliban are not a proper expression of Islam. His lead is welcome, as is the cultural change in the British media where Islam is beginning to be presented in a more nuanced and informed way, avoiding some of the old inaccurate stereotypes.
I want to commend the Prime Minister's insistence that the atrocities in the United States have made it more urgent than ever to develop a debate between religions as well as between nations. Although our debate today understandably has a strong emphasis on Christian and Muslim religions, it is important for us to put on the record the place of the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Jews and people of other faiths and of no faith at all in this respect. I commend the Government's willingness to address incitement to religious hate. It is far more than legislation for good manners, as some would appear to see it, and it will be extremely welcome in cities such as Bradford. I believe that all these measures will reassure British Muslims and enable them to support the Prime Minister's considered measures against terrorism. I hope that his courageous stand will encourage General Musharraf to reassure Pakistani Christians in that country that they will not be the victims and targets of anti-western and anti-American sentiment. They are vulnerable and fearful, and we should not forget them.
I note with interest that the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, is to speak next. I refer to his report which was prepared before, but published after, riots in Bradford earlier this summer. The noble Lord rightly pointed to a worrying situation of polarisation across Muslim and non-Muslim communities which is exacerbated by ill thought out educational and housing policies. Whatever the complex causes may be, there is segregation and suspicion. The reality is that we have large Muslim quarters. In 1991 there were some 50,000 Muslims in Bradford; by 2020 it is anticipated that there will be at least 150,000. That is a considerable size of people whose well-being and contribution to the whole community are absolutely crucial. Most come from south Asia. That raises a critical question--the extent to which such large Muslim quarters will have open doors and windows to wider society, or whether they will become relatively closed worlds. I believe that the answer to that question is completely tied up with the major issues we are debating today.
I wish to speak with candour, honesty and compassion. We are already working hard. We must continue to work hard to prevent sections of our cities from becoming relatively closed worlds. If that happens, the potential for closed minds and blinkered vision linked to an often unthinking anti-western and anti-US sentiment evident in some popular Muslim writings, fed by alternative Muslim sources of information and comment, and facilitated by global media networks, could translate into a breeding ground for youth disaffection and even extremism.
I have no idea whatever--perhaps the Government do--whether any young people in this country have been to Afghanistan or elsewhere for a spell in one of the training camps. It may be that none has. However, it is not beyond the bounds, at least of imagination and possibility. If one is a young person in Bradford, one may be one of those who pays little attention to the elders and their wisdom and to the true teaching of Islam, and one may be gullible, as some of those in the riots were. It was a waste of time when I tried to reason with some. All they came out with were slogans of abuse against the police and anyone else they could think of. It is precisely those people who grow up in what they regard as a "victim culture", who do not listen or think, who present the problem; it is not the Muslims of Bradford at large, who have roundly condemned the atrocities and who are concerned with building up good relations.
That kind of segregation must not happen. The report of the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, questioned the wisdom of importing large numbers of imams from south Asia. The noble Lord also pointed to the city's problems with arranged marriages. Over half of the arranged marriages are still transcontinental; the majority from rural areas. It is a matter of some urgency, for the well-being of all people, for the Government to open up a serious dialogue with Muslim communities in our large cities about this issue and that of the imams.
In this country we have some advantages. We have an established Church. Therefore religion is on the agenda for all to talk about. Unlike Germany, Muslims in Britain have citizenship. This difficult but vital debate must take place in that context. It is not just a question of the training of imams in this country. Half a dozen of my clergy intended to go to Pakistan. They wanted to learn and to listen, the better to work with Muslims in Bradford. Therefore, they asked if they might pay a visit to a local imam training seminary. The answer was, "No, we do not want you"--a complete flat refusal. Too often clergy working in Muslim areas of the city find themselves repulsed when seeking to develop or deepen relations between mosque and church.
I hope that your Lordships' House, under the Government, will encourage all people of real faith to open up these windows and doors so that we listen to each other--that is so crucial--and see where each is coming from and, having listened, share our understandings.
I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government--I acknowledge this as a special plea for Bradford--to consider three things. First, my Muslim friends in Bradford have been shocked by riots, by the atrocities in the United States, and by the attempts of some extremist young Muslim organisations to exercise influence in our city. Would it financially be possible to establish a Muslim chaplaincy in the University of Bradford and Bradford College in order to counteract that extremist influence, thereby providing a bona fide sensible and true Islamic presence to offer guidance to gullible young people?
Secondly, in the university there is a world-renowned department of peace studies. Would it be possible to join with local Muslim businessmen and others to establish a chair especially to consider Islam and conflict resolution? That would be enormously welcome. It would develop the valuable work done already in an important university by that department.
Thirdly, and slightly differently, there is a feeling abroad that businesses are beginning to move out of Bradford because of fears over security. Those fears are felt by Muslim businesses as well as others. Would it be possible to improve and increase police resources and the police presence to give a sense of security to Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews and everyone of integrity, so they will stay, work at the matter and make our city one in which all can live with peace and understanding.
I make no apology for talking about Bradford. I believe that if Bradford and cities like it, which are multicultural, multiracial and multi-faith on any reckoning, can be encouraged to get all the communities together, committed to living in peace and justice, in harmony and tolerance, the county and beyond will feel the benefit. However, if we allow them to become seedbeds for youth discontent and disaffection, God help us.
My Lords, I rise with a great deal of humility and intrepedation to make my debut contribution to the House, having heard the experience and expertise offered so far by noble Lords. That existing wisdom and knowledge helps to provide us with information and understanding at a time when we need a great deal of knowledge and understanding. I thank noble Lords in all parts of the House for offering hands of friendship and their help, for which I am most grateful.
It is especially pleasing that the House has been recalled on two occasions following the inhumane atrocities in the United States on 11th September because, when addressing the danger to democracies throughout the world, it is important to exercise our own democracy in a way that enables the public to understand what is happening. The trauma that gripped many people on 11th September has not gone away. The questions "Who?" and "Why?" still require answers. From the first, we heard that Osama bin Laden was responsible. Today, thanks to the Leader of the House and the Minister, we heard more about the reasons for that belief.
As to "Why?", more answers have emerged because of the time that it has taken to consider and reflect on the information gathered and to explain to all those in our society who may have jumped to conclusions what might have to be done and the consequences.
I take the opportunity to express my own sorrow for all those who perished and who suffer--and to commend, thank and praise all those in the emergency services who gave their lives to try to save lives.
We looked for leadership and it was gratifying to see that quality emerge from the President of the United States, our Prime Minister, leaders of parties represented in our Parliament and religious leaders across different faiths. They came together on many occasions before the recent atrocities and have continued to do so, to generate confidence and promote more understanding.
The Prime Minister's leadership has been particularly important in reassuring the Muslim community about its contribution and value to our society and that the war against terrorism is not a war against Islam or Muslim communities in this country or abroad. Each of us must consider and determine our response in a sombre, calm and objective way. The period between 11th September and now has enabled us to do that and be more vigilant, yet we have witnessed an upsurge in random and unjustified violence and attacks on the Muslim community in particular.
The international coalition that is emerging and the military response that will inevitably take place will have an effect on our attitudes and responses but it is important to recognise that coming together must occur in a way that enables us to respond. The question has been asked of whether the events of 11th September have changed the world or will change the world and make a long-lasting difference. The immediate reaction to legislation to tackle religious hatred and violence is that such a development is an impulsive response. However, religious prejudice has been considered deeply by government over a long period, so it is appropriate to make such a response now and in a way that helps appreciation of the wide diversity of faiths in our communities.
The House will want to be certain that such legislation deals with hate crimes associated not only with religion or race but also homosexuality or domestic violence. Many people live in fear not of international terrorism but of leaving their own homes and being attacked, vilified or even violated. That fear existed before 11th September and has increased enormously. A number of our sisters and brothers in the Muslim community are fearful of leaving their homes and even of being in their homes. The coming together that I mentioned must reach across the barriers of hatred, wherever it arises. That hatred occurs as much in minority ethnic communities as it does across the colour lines between black and white.
We must attack the sources of ignorance and bigotry. The knowledge, experience and wisdom that I have shared in today's debate has given me a better appreciation of the problems that we face, why the atrocities of 11th September occurred, and of the need to convey to the public the reasons for the atrocities that have occurred throughout the world for the past 20 years, 30 years or longer, which have inflicted terror and damage.
The more we convey those reasons, particularly through education, and increase public understanding, the greater the opportunity to increase knowledge of our diversity. Over the past 15 to 20 years, we have missed the opportunity to impose the diversity content on the national curriculum, to ensure that young people in schools of whatever denomination have the knowledge that will enable them to go forth into the world with respect for others. That applies not just to schools but also to colleges and universities.
Last October, a MORI survey published in Reader's Digest indicated that the vast majority of respondents believed that racial prejudice was increasing and would go on increasing. That is a sad indictment. People were not saying prejudice was getting worse for a particular reason. I was totally dismayed by that conclusion because I believed that things were getting better.
The survey revealed that when one starts with a prejudiced view, that prejudice is reinforced by the information that one receives or does not receive. Most respondents stated that the information which made them more prejudiced came from politicians and the media. Most of the respondents were adults, but politicians and the media also provide information and knowledge through our schools.
Therefore, we must recognise the damage which has been done in the past 10 years. The diet of anti-asylum seeking coverage has reinforced prejudice not only across the wider community but even among the minority ethnic communities in our society. That is all part of the build up of terror within our society which we must address as part of the opportunity which has arisen on the back of the disaster to build a better world for everyone. That applies not just elsewhere, but here in the UK.
The Prime Minister, who has given wonderful leadership during the past three weeks, indicated this week the dangers of inaction. Such inaction may surround the military responses which must be made in dealing with the Taliban and bin Laden, but we must also rid ourselves of the bigotry and hatred which exists in the UK and enable the vulnerable communities which face daily terror to overcome that through action.
I agree that we need to hear from the Home Secretary a statement on security in the UK; the measures necessary to deal with the movement of people, asylum seekers and incitement, and how those issues are to be addressed. We need to be certain that those measures will be brought forward.
I conclude by stressing once more that the opportunities that we are offered on the back of the atrocious disaster which has occurred in the United States must not be lost. There has been a coming together, but there has also been a rise in expressions of racial and religious intolerance. Education is the key for the next generation to enable them to understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.
The fact that we are here today considering the issues which surround the response to the events of 11th September is part of the process of giving information to the nation and explaining what is happening and why. As we consider the responses and hear more as events unfold and happen, it is incumbent on us all not to forget the importance of getting things right here at home.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, on his maiden speech in your Lordships' House today. No one can speak with better authority on race and community relations than the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley. His professional career has been devoted to promoting equality of opportunity and good relations among all sections of our community. I am confident that, as one of the first people's peers, and as we have heard in his speech today, the noble Lord brings enormous experience to this House. We look forward to hearing his views in future.
I join with all noble Lords in mourning with the people of the United States the tragic loss of life which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people belonging to more than 60 nationalities. The brutal murder of innocent civilians in the worst single act of mass terrorism includes people of all religious denominations. The carnage of 11th September includes not only Christians and Jews but many Muslims.
The Muslim world has been among the foremost to condemn this heinous atrocity. There has also been condemnation by the people of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and, indeed, Africa, all of whom have been subject to terrorism in one form or another.
I was delighted that the Government of Pakistan joined the international community in the condemnation of terrorism in all its forms. President Musharraf of Pakistan immediately declared his support for the United States and the international community in their fight against global terrorism. I refer to the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, who is not in his place. In defence of Pakistan, I remind the House that it was Pakistan which was left to pick up the pieces after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
I happened to be in Pakistan when news of the horrific event took place. I watched the events unfold with mounting disbelief and outright horror. When I returned to the UK I was pleased to hear that the British Muslims had also condemned the terrorist attack in New York, contrary to comments made this morning by politicians. Muslims are concerned about increased racist attacks. Many cases have been reported to the police and in some sections of the media.
I thank the many police officers who have provided extra and excellent service to the British Muslim community during this difficult time. I also take the opportunity to thank the Home Secretary the right honourable David Blunkett for announcing yesterday that Her Majesty's Government will introduce new laws, hence widening the scope of legislation to include such issues as religious and racial hatred, and will consider the creation of religious aggravated offences to complement the racially-motivated offences created by the Crime and Disorder Act. The new proposals will protect British citizens from the racist thugs and religious zealots who have created fear in our community.
There are a few vocal groups who represent only themselves and who are the shrillest in their condemnations and defence of the indefensible. Nothing would please the Muslim community more than for the fringe element which incites hatred to be locked up under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and for the Home Secretary to take firm action against such individuals.
However, in the aftermath of the carnage of New York, I was disturbed to see that some of the media, including the BBC, continued to use derogatory terminology such as "Islamic terrorists", "Islamic militants" and "Islamic extremists", so much so that "terrorism" and "Islam" became interchangeable terms. The media linkage of martyrdom to terrorism and the nonsense of 72 virgins waiting in Paradise for the suicide bomber is deeply offensive to Islam and to over 1 billion Muslims in the world.
I state categorically that suicide is absolutely forbidden in Islam. Hence, the notion of a suicide bomber is not only unacceptable but, on the contrary, there are ample references to the fires of hell awaiting those who commit such atrocities. Islam does not condone terrorism and the death of the innocent in any form. Indeed, the Qur'an unequivocally states in chapter 5 that whoever kills another human being,
"it shall be as if he killed all of mankind and whoever brings life to one, it shall be as if he brought life to all of mankind".
The same chapter states that those who disturb the peace of society and spread fear and disorder deserve the severest punishment that can be imposed.
There are other Qur'anic injunctions, to the extent that even if atheists seek asylum, they should be given protection and conveyed to a place of safety. Another relevant injunction states:
"Whatever wrong any human being commits rests upon himself alone and no bearer of burdens shall bear another's burdens".
That was to obviate the concept of collective criminalisation. Hence, to make innocent people responsible, as the terrorists have done, is contrary to the Holy Qur'an. Islam also goes further in search of peace by calling on the victims of aggression to realise that the taking of revenge can itself become as evil as the act of aggression, hence, whoever pardons and makes peace will be rewarded by God.
Thus, the atrocity in New York is not only totally contrary to the teachings of Islam but amounts to blasphemous behaviour and a crime against humanity. In Rwanda some of those indicted for the genocide which saw the loss of more than a million lives were priests and nuns. I am, however, pleased that the media saw this as the aberrant behaviour of some and did not blame Roman Catholicism. Similarly, as the IRA is not regarded as Catholic terrorists--nor ETA in Spain, for that matter--and nor are the Tamil Tigers regarded as Hindu terrorists, then why link Islam to terrorism?
We have to be tough on terrorism and also on the causes of terrorism. Unless the international community is fully prepared to deal with the issues of global social injustice--such as the illegal occupation of other people's lands by other states, the tyrannies, the oppressions, the dictatorships and other abuses of human rights--rather than to pay lip service to them, we are, I am afraid, only creating conditions which will one day come back to haunt us.
I regret that the world at large, including the Muslim world, is in danger of sinking into tribalism with all the savagery unleashed in many parts of the globe. Because of the advent of globalisation, the hedonistic pursuit of materialistic values creates a vacuum in which aggression against each other thrives. No society is immune from violence, and the worst kind of violence is one which cloaks itself in the mantle of religion as the very invocation of religion often hides vicious objectives.
It is also imperative that we do not necessarily adopt a hands-off approach to a country or a group of countries because of close trading links or the so called "strategic interests", and only belatedly react when its culture or ideology so violently impinges on our values and norms.
By the same token, it would be a serious mistake to fix our gaze on the religious zealotry and to ignore the complex factors, which are not only economic but political and socio-cultural. Had these factors been addressed in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Red Army's pull-out, and had that country not been abandoned by the West in the early 1990s, we would not be in the situation we are in today.
This terrorist crime needs to be addressed through the appropriate mechanisms rather than by bilateral actions. I should like to thank the Leader of the House for sharing some evidence with the House today. This evidence should be able to withstand scrutiny in any court of law and should not be merely of a circumstantial variety. We are, after all, a people who place enormous value on democracy, freedom of speech, the rule of law and justice. Hence, we have a duty to maintain the highest standards in these spheres.
Had the United States not objected to the setting up of the international criminal tribunal earlier this summer, it might have found that this would have been a proper forum in which to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice, rather than to threaten, inter alia, one of the most deprived and most vulnerable victims of the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Indeed, let us pay tribute to the many hundreds of thousands of Afghans who lost their lives, and to those thousands more who are maimed for life, who helped to bury Communism and who supported the West. I am delighted to hear the commitment from the Prime Minister that this time we will not turn our backs on the Afghan people but will ensure that there is peace, stability and reconstruction of that country.
There is a real need to modernise and reform the UN Security Council and to make it more representative of current realities. For too many people in the world there is a perception that one country's interests dominate what would be, or should be, the agenda for justice and peace for the whole world. In fact, everyone should feel represented in a body which provides justice under the law.
Our country has also experienced terrorism for many years. I am sorry to say that those who exploded bombs in our cities not only collected money but also marched down the streets of New York for many years. On the other hand, we have given refuge and, indeed, asylum to some who have created terror, mayhem and needless loss of life in other countries, such as Pakistan. This is not compatible with freedom of speech and the norms of democracy, or even with the international conventions.
Some of the countries which have been subjected to terrorism do not have the resources to combat this menace. I feel that we should make available our resources in terms of technical expertise and funding to fight this global menace of terrorism, while also taking care of the immediate needs and the causes of the inequities which in turn spiral into a cycle of violence.
I am heartened by the increased financial and logistical support provided by the Secretary of State for International Development, Claire Short, for the humanitarian crisis in respect of refugees streaming out of Afghanistan. I hope that the DfID will deal directly with the Governments of Iran and Pakistan and the established NGOs in the region for the provision of humanitarian aid to the refugees rather than involve UNHCR, which acts only as a middleman. It appears that were more money made available to UNHCR, a figure of less than 30 per cent would end up reaching the refugees. Its latest financial statements, issued in September, carry a qualification, for the first time ever in its history, by the UN Board of Auditors. Perhaps UNHCR should focus on its mandate of international protection only.
Finally, I should like to thank both the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for reassuring the Muslim community that this was not a war against Islam but against terrorism. They are right when they say that Islam is a religion of peace.
My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to make a short intervention in the debate. Perhaps I may start by saying how strongly I support the position taken by my right honourable friend Mr Duncan Smith in support of the Government and how, thus, I support the Government in the resolute action they are taking. I was going to say, "in support of the United States", but we are doing very much more than merely supporting the United States; we are participating with it in the establishment of this coalition against the terrible people who perpetrated the events of 11th September.
As the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, emphasised, this is not a conflict or a war, if that is the word, against Islam. It is a war against fundamental terrorists. It is no more a war against Islam than the conflict in Northern Ireland, for example, is a war against Roman Catholics. It is a war against criminal terrorists, and that is the basis on which we should conduct the offensive, if it comes to that.
Ever since the end of the Cold War at the end of the 1980s, it has been the fashion to take advantage of the so-called "peace dividend". But, sadly, despite the changes that took place at that time, the world is not a safer place.
The Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Hoon, has recently been talking about "refocusing" defence activity. Indeed, I think I am right in saying that he started talking about a defence review. All defence reviews in my experience have resulted in less rather than more defence expenditure. I fear that the time has come to review the decline in defence expenditure generally. I do not wish to make a political point about that--reductions in defence expenditure have been carried out by both parties in this country in recent years and in other countries too--but the threat now posed by international terrorism, reflected so terribly in the events of 11th September, must surely cause a revision of that consideration. The plain fact is that we shall have to review the extent of our defence expenditure. It may be that we shall have to change some of it, but reduce it we most certainly should not.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a lengthy speech at the Labour Party Conference the other day. He mentioned a number of areas where he hoped to increase government expenditure. I think that I am right in saying that the word "defence" never passed his lips during the course of that speech. In the circumstances in which we find ourselves that is perhaps a pity because too often in the past the defence budget has been raided in circumstances prior to the ones in which we now find ourselves, to the general disadvantage of our defence posture.
We are still moved to grief and to prayer for the 7,000 or so people who were tragically killed in New York nearly three weeks ago. But it seems that very soon now there will be some kind of military action in Afghanistan in which undoubtedly our own Armed Forces will play a part. Is it therefore not now time for us to offer our thoughts and prayers to them?
My Lords, there have been many impressive speeches in the debate so far and there surely will be many more before the day is done. As someone who in the dim and distant past achieved a history degree I was particularly impressed with the speech of my noble friend Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon who showed a remarkable historical knowledge of the possible conflict that faces us. I am sure that reference will be made to that in the course of future developments.
In the wake of the appalling events in the United States on 11th September, many security issues have had to be re-examined. I should like to speak specifically about the security of energy supplies. The noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, referred to the potential vulnerability of the world energy situation. Energy is, of course, a vital element in the economy, whether for industry, the home or transport. In recent years we have been particularly fortunate because of the abundance of gas and oil from the North Sea. But these reserves are now beginning to run out and we shall become increasingly dependent on imports. In the case of gas, which dominates the industrial and domestic markets, we could, according to the Government, be importing as much as 90 per cent of our requirements by the year 2020.
Safeguarding energy supplies raises short and longer-term issues. Short-term measures should include building up emergency stocks. We are committed under the International Energy Agency to hold stocks of at least 90 days of oil. No doubt that is being done, but we should consider whether that should be increased in the present circumstances. In the case of gas there are virtually no emergency strategic stocks, no doubt due to the fact that we had such an abundant supply from the North Sea. As that is going to change, we should seriously consider building up such stocks, particularly as Continental countries have done so for some time. Crucial and vulnerable installations should be specifically protected, as referred to by my noble friend Lord McNally, and there should be back-up sources of electricity for essential purposes wherever these do not already exist. I do not expect the Government to reveal the detailed security measures they are taking in relation to energy or, indeed, to other matters under their control. However, I hope that they can give us an assurance that in this crucial area urgent action is being taken.
In the longer term the Government have recently embarked upon a fundamental review of energy policy. I submit that in the light of the recent events the long-term security of energy supplies has taken on a new dimension. As I have pointed out, the main feature of the UK energy scene for the past decade has been the increasing dominance of gas. Unless action is taken, the use of gas is likely to continue to increase and in due course virtually all of it will have to be imported. The prospect of total import dependence for a dominant energy source would be undesirable in normal circumstances and is all the more undesirable in the new circumstances that have arisen.
What action should be taken? On the supply side urgent attention needs to be devoted to alternative energy sources. There should be greater use of coal--an industry with which I had something to do in the past--of which abundant reserves remain, accompanied by the application of clean coal technology to reduce the environmental impact. The nuclear contribution is likely to diminish from 2010 onwards and its role will need to be reassessed. It is urgent that the issue of the disposal of nuclear waste is settled. Much more effort needs to be devoted to promoting renewable resources and possible obstacles arising from the climate change levy and the Utilities Act need to be dealt with. There should also be a major development of combined heat and power which is being held up at the present time.
The definition of "renewable sources" needs to be widened. It would be better to talk about alternative sources of energy to include such fuels as methane from coal mines which, if it goes to waste, causes substantial environmental damage. That is an issue to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, has frequently drawn attention.
Action is also required on the demand side. Much greater emphasis needs to be put on the efficient use of energy where the impetus has diminished in recent years by the emphasis which has been put on reducing prices. While it is wholly desirable to increase our competitiveness and reduce the impact of fuel poverty, the real point at which the cost of energy needs to be reduced is in its use and not in the delivery of the unit of energy. Policies in the future need to be modified to achieve that change of emphasis.
In the case of electricity, which is a vital secondary energy source, the move towards smaller scale generation, or embedded generation as it is sometimes known, needs to be accentuated. I should here declare an interest as I have recently set up a company called Micropower to promote this development which I consider will make an important contribution to future energy security.
In the transport sector, which is almost entirely dependent on petroleum products, more effort needs to be put into fuel efficiency and diversification. Alternative fuel sources such as bio-fuels need to be actively promoted. That is an issue which the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, has raised on a number of occasions.
To sum up, there is a need to put in place urgently a series of short-term measures to safeguard essential energy supplies. In the longer term the current review of energy policy needs to contain proposals both on the supply and the demand side which will offset increasing import dependence.
My Lords, I wish to pick up a point which the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, mentioned in opening about bringing good out of evil. I believe that crisis often goes hand in hand with opportunity. I wish to examine the signs of hope that I see in response to the atrocious act of terrorism on 11th September. I believe that we can identify four signs of hope, however tentative, in the way the response has been made.
First, I refer to the understanding of our interdependence and interconnectedness as communities. The isolation of which other noble Lords have spoken is not common and often our communities link hands across the world. We have spoken of standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States. That has obviously been a real response for many people. But it is also true that, as British citizens, there are those who stand shoulder to shoulder with other communities all around the world. This promotes a rich and diverse society which has its links in friends and family connections across the globe. That has produced something which I believe would have been unthinkable only a few months ago. Alliances are now being formed across the nations. If press speculation is to be believed, our Prime Minister is to visit not only Russia, but also Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. That would previously have been unthinkable. Such alliances, which are now becoming a reality, appear to be a real sign of hope.
I was much taken with the statement made by the Muslim Council of Britain on 11th September. It stated that:
"Terror makes victims of us all".
When we share in that common sense of terror and victimisation, we also share in a response which will allow for more creative work to be done. Unity often depends on a common enemy. If that common enemy is seen not to be the demonisation or scapegoating of a particular community, but rather is perceived as something that exists in every community--the powers of evil and lawlessness within communities--perhaps we shall stand a better chance of creating a global village in which peace can be a reality.
Secondly, I believe that, however tentatively, we have been developing a new understanding of the role of religion. We now see religion neither as something powerless but pleasant which enables one better to value a sunset or have something good to do on a Sunday, nor in terms of the power of evil with people passionately believing in something which is not believable, but as a common force for good and cohesion within societies. It is encouraging that over the past three weeks more people have attended church. I believe that sales of the Koran have rocketed in high street shops. Those are good signs which indicate that people are beginning to recognise what those of us who belong to a religious faith know already. I refer to the sense of personal accountability to a higher force and to a passionate commitment to the common good. These factors are forces for good within all the religions practised in our society.
The third sign of hope that I have identified is the one referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed; namely, the immediate response to terrorism. During the last war there was a saying, "Careless talk costs lives". I believe that the language we use has changed over the past three weeks. It is now less likely, either in the media or in Statements, to hear the term "Islamic fundamentalists" being used in relation to the terrorists. Terrorists should not be dignified by the title of Islamic fundamentalists any more than terrorists on both sides in Ireland should be called Christians. Terrorism is not the outcome of a religious faith, and terrorists should not be allowed to hide behind it. We have learned to take more care with our language and to value its meaning. The fundamentals of all religions are truth, compassion, justice and mercy. We must uphold those values as much as we can.
I turn to my fourth sign of hope. While it is true that there have been some instances of intimidation and threat to those of different faiths living in this country, there have been infinitely more expressions of friendship and solidarity than are ever mentioned in the press. In countless communities up and down the country, overtures of friendship have been made between churches and mosques. Hundreds of people have been gathering together in small groups to try to understand each other better. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London mentioned a meeting held yesterday evening, at which I, too, was present. It marked a significant moment when all sides came together to stand in solidarity. One of the speakers at the meeting quoted rather effectively the words of Mahatma Gandhi when he stated that:
"An eye for an eye, if taken to its logical conclusion, means that the whole world will be blind".
We are learning to trust each other, to accept each other's values and to work together. However, such alliances, both within this country and internationally, are precarious. They need to be established and nurtured. They need time to grow so that the world can become a better place.
One effect of what has happened in America has been to bring out such signs of hope in our societies. However, they have also been the result of much long, hard work, most specifically by the Inter Faith Network of this country and, dare I say, by the Churches' Commission for Inter Faith Relations, of which I am chair. On 10th September the commission launched its religious discrimination report in the hope that everyone will be able to enter into a discussion about what is the proper way for the law in this country to include religious discrimination as well as racial discrimination in its tenets. For obvious reasons, the report did not receive the coverage that perhaps it deserved. None the less, it is an extremely important document and I hope that it will be a helpful contribution to the debate that we must have, not only about incitement to religious hatred--I greatly welcome such a debate--but also about how properly to support and protect religious faiths in this country. That debate needs to be nurtured.
I plead for the restraint which has been demonstrated so far to continue. It is my belief that we never reach the end of the conversation which attempts to engage even terrorists in mutual conversation, so that we can make a difference. One wayward missile would destroy more than an Afghan village. I also believe that, in seeking to bring these people to justice rather than resorting to assassination, at this time we must have concern not only for criminal justice, but also for the long-term and far-reaching social justice which might mean that there will be no such attacks in the future.
My Lords, before I turn to the main part of my speech, I wish to say two or three words about Northern Ireland, in particular because the noble Baroness, Lady Park, devoted a good deal of her contribution to that part of the United Kingdom.
First, I believe that the Government's policy as regards policing has been a success, as evidenced by the fact that the policing board has now been set up and that the SDLP and the main unionist parties have joined the board. I think that it is churlish to suggest otherwise. Secondly, as regards the Special Branch and action against terrorism, I have complete confidence in the Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan. I do not believe that he would make any changes to policing procedures in Northern Ireland unless he felt that it was consistent with the prevailing security situation to do so.
My Lords, I should like to correct one evident misunderstanding. I did not for a moment suggest that good things have not taken place as regards the issue of the police. I said that the SDLP had joined. My point was that the IRA had not.
My Lords, I do not think that we have time to enter into a long debate. That should be left for another day. I simply wished to point out that, first, the Government's policy on policing had been a success. Secondly, Ronnie Flanagan has made decisions in the interests of good policing and security in Northern Ireland and I fully support those decisions. Thirdly, I think that the noble Baroness was less than generous to Mr Ramaphosa and Mr Ahtisaari, to whom she referred in a manner which I felt was unworthy of two eminent international statesmen. They have enormously important track records, in South Africa on the one hand and as a former president of Finland on the other. As I said, I believe that it was less than generous to suggest that they were bumbling, incompetent people, which was more or less the thrust of what she said.
Since our previous debate on this issue, we have had time to consider the implications of what happened in New York on 11th September. I believe that we have had even more time than was available in that debate to reflect on the enormous bravery of the New York fire service and police and of many other New Yorkers. We have had an opportunity to reflect on the increasingly mature approach of the United States Administration. We have been made more aware of the dreadful toll of life and the tragic last-minute telephone messages of those who knew that they were about to die, either in the buildings or on some of the aircraft.
Furthermore, I believe that we are more aware now than we were three weeks ago of the continuing threat imposed by bin Laden and his terrorist network. It is a very real threat in this country, in the United States and in many other countries. If there is only one main aim for Western government policy--indeed, not only for Western government policy but for that of other governments, particularly those in the region--it is to do all that we can to prevent, or at least to lessen, the chance of further abominable acts of terrorism. That must surely underlie the approach that we take to this matter. If another major attack were to take place on our way of life or on innocent people, that would be another appalling atrocity. It is right that governments do what they can to prevent it, and that, of course, means getting rid of bin Laden.
It also means that there is a need for far more covert action and probably an increasing role for Western intelligence services. It will involve educating the public in all our countries that this will, indeed, be a long haul and that we must be resolute, firm and single-minded in our purpose; otherwise, as time goes by, it will be easy to give a lower priority to these matters than we would give today. That will be a challenge for governments everywhere.
One key issue in this matter is the source of information. Clearly, not only in this country, where we have good sources of information, but in many parts of the world where those do not exist, we need to ensure the existence of accurate, impartial information and informed analysis and, indeed, debate so that people in Afghanistan and in the adjoining areas can be aware of the issues and of what is happening. We may not always be as aware of the issues as we have the ability to be.
I welcome the fact that the BBC World Service has stepped up its programming significantly in recent weeks. I understand that at least 60 public radio stations in the US have taken a large amount of World Service programming. However, perhaps more importantly, the BBC has expanded its World Service in Pashto, Persian and Urdu. It has extended its Arabic news service to 24 hours a day, and it is also increasing the use of medium and short-wave transmissions to Afghanistan. That is important because there is no television in Afghanistan and very few credible newspapers. Therefore, the main source of information is the radio.
According to limited survey work carried out by the World Service among heads of households, it is indicated that 70 per cent of Pashto speakers and 60 per cent of Persian speakers listen to the BBC World Service. Eighty-six per cent judge it to be newsworthy. Sixteen million people listen to the BBC World Service each week in Pakistan. Forty per cent of recently surveyed international travellers--admittedly a slightly skewed sample--from Iran are regular World Service listeners. I hope very much that the BBC World Service will be given resources not only at present but in the future to ensure that it can continue with that type of full coverage. It is important to ensure that people in the region are aware of what has happened and of what is being done and the measured way in which the issue is being approached.
Perhaps I may also mention the work of the British Council in the region--a much longer-term objective. The British Council is playing a part in education and the spread of information, and I consider that to be crucial.
It is vital that we continue to seek the support and commitment of countries in the region. I believe that one of our aims must be to dry up the recruitment sources for terrorist organisations. On the evidence available, I am well aware that the hijackers in the United States came from well-heeled, affluent backgrounds. They were educated people who were not in poverty. We must consider that fact in relation to what is happening. However, I believe that it is important that we dry up the recruitment of people to bin Laden's terrorist organisation in whatever way that we can. I do not say that a direct link exists between what is happening in Israel and its adjoining countries and bin Laden's activities. However, a positive good to come out of the current situation would be the establishment of a peaceful settlement between the people of Israel, the Palestinians and those of the adjoining states. I would very much like the Mitchell plan for the Middle East to be put back on the agenda as an important contribution to developing peace.
One important consideration must surely be not to destabilise the Government of Pakistan. The set-up there is fragile; at least, I believe that it is, judging by the changes of government. It is important that we support Pakistan and that we do not take action which would destabilise it. Of course, we all welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to tackle poverty in the region, to send aid to Afghanistan and, indeed, to assist Iran and Pakistan in coping with what is likely to be a large movement of refugees from Afghanistan into those countries. It is important that we continue to do so because the effect of a large flow of people could itself be destabilising for the region.
Perhaps I may repeat the comment that has been made by many people: the Muslim community in this country has been resolute in condemning terrorist actions. I have heard nothing but condemnation from the Muslim community, not only in this House but also in the country as a whole, of what happened in New York. I am very sorry that a former Prime Minister has suggested otherwise. Of course, I welcome the Government's commitment to legislation against religious discrimination. I hope that we can define "religion" in such a way that it does not cause too much confusion. I believe that a difficulty lies in that, but I welcome the commitment in principle and I hope that the Government will be able to give good effect to it.
Lastly, I do not believe that today we can sensibly debate all the civil liberty issues that are liable to stem from what has happened. We do not know the details of the Government's policies; we have simply heard hints of the general direction in which they want to go. We shall certainly consider the matter in detail but I believe that it should be left for another day. Today is the day on which to be firm and resolute and to accept that a serious threat still exists and that it is up to governments to lessen that threat.
My Lords, in the history of our country we have been through many turbulent times. Inevitably, when debate follows events of the type that we have witnessed recently, it is the occasion for sombre reflection and, as has been witnessed thus far today, quiet resolve.
I believe that what happened in America on 11th September will be marked down for ever in our calendar as a day of evil. It was a day when terrorism struck at the very heart of America and brought a rude shock to so many American citizens who, until that time, had harboured the dream or illusion that they were somehow invulnerable to the type of events that have engulfed other parts of the world from time to time. Naturally, our heart goes out to all those who have suffered from the frightful atrocities. We must do and contribute whatever we can to guard against their repetition.
What has happened compels us to assess, to reassess and to take stock. I have no doubt that attitudes and positions will need to be changed in a number of different directions. Not least is that likely to be the case in the Middle East. The threat of "bin Ladenism" is not only against the West; it carries grave implications for other countries as well--not least for Saudi Arabia.
I hope that somehow in the aftermath of the horror that we have all witnessed a new statesmanlike position can be adopted in some countries in the Middle East. I listened with great interest to the distinguished maiden speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. I found myself in sympathy with much of what he said about the state of Israel. I find particularly offensive the aggressive establishment of settlements on Palestinian or Arab-owned land. Frankly, at this moment there is an urgent need to subordinate the pursuit of narrow nationalist objectives and to aim instead at restoring stability and at bringing prosperity to those areas in which there is poverty and which constitute a breeding ground for unrest. That applies to parts of the territory that is currently under the governorship of Israel.
The Prime Minister, through his energetic and effective leadership, helped to mould the consortium in support of the American-led response to terrorism. However, in his speech to the Labour Party conference he drew on from that and expressed the hope that that would bring about developments in European policy, that we would all find ourselves coming closer together in that regard and that we would find solutions in Africa and elsewhere. I do not in any way disparage his vision--I understand what he was saying--but he has a very long-term objective.
What impresses me about the way in which the consortium has been brought together is the fact that there has been commonality of purpose. There is clear-cut evidence of the objective. People know and understand what we are aiming to achieve. When the cause is clear and the purpose is plain, countries come together. I hope that we continue in years to come to preserve sufficient independence, flexibility and capability always to be able to act decisively in our self-defence. The United Kingdom's position is pivotal in the three concentric circles of the transatlantic alliance, the Commonwealth and Europe. We should retain that position and not allow ourselves to be caught up in anything that is fixed and reduces our ability to manoeuvre when we need to counter hostilities from elsewhere.
Faced with the possibility that any further manifestations of terrorism might develop into a catastrophe of almost unimaginable proportions it is necessary for the US-led action to take place fairly soon. I have never quite understood what is meant by "proportionate" in relation to the action that is likely to be taken simply because the only action that is worth taking is that which most effectively achieves the objective of eliminating the terrorists' capability of being able to strike again. If anything goes beyond that it is clearly unnecessary. Within that, whatever action it is necessary to take should be taken and we should not try politically to circumscribe the ability of our forces to achieve that.
However, for our efforts to curb terrorists' activities to have any effect at all, we must operate simultaneously on several fronts. There is a need to take action on the civil front and against those who campaign and raise funds and those who issue propaganda or incite hatred. The priority is obviously to destroy the Taliban and bin Laden centres of power in Afghanistan because it is from there that so much of the evil work is being planned and launched.
The Al'Qaeda network appears to be very tightly organised, highly disciplined and heavily funded and it has a most successful system of communication at its command. To destroy it will require a composite campaign of considerable complexity. It will also be of long duration. It is essential that, throughout the duration of that campaign, the Government sustain the support and resolution of the people of this country. They will need to do so through constant communication, explanation and education.
We have to come to terms with an entirely new definition of hostilities in which the "enemy" is barely identifiable and whose single-minded agents are directed silently from cells deeply embedded, even here, among the ever-tolerant, unsuspecting and freedom-loving peoples of the western democracies. To further their aims the terrorists will stop at nothing. Life itself, their own as well as that of others, has no meaning for them. They are driven by a fanatical hatred and by the conviction that they will find "infinite paradise". Moves against trained terrorist activists, wherever in the world they may be hiding, must be urgently and vigorously undertaken.
I hope that we are now no longer in any way complacent about what we need to do. I was impressed by the references of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, to the security services. I am not by any means an expert on the subject but I believe that we now have to look for a degree of co-ordination and co-operation between our security services such as we have never previously witnessed. In this country perhaps we can expect MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Customs and Excise, the Immigration Service and the police to work together as one integrated task force, pooling information and sharing intelligence. I hope that some of that work will be centrally directed--or at any rate centrally accountable--and that a Minister, if not the Prime Minister, will be directly responsible for the necessary legislation.
It may be necessary to consider the introduction of computerised records that note the movement of individuals at all United Kingdom points of entry and departure. Nor should we ignore the more localised terror organisations and those who incite violence from platform and pulpit. Too many self-styled freedom fighters still have sanctuary in this country. For example, the Tamil Tigers, whose suicide bombers have for decades wreaked such havoc in Sri Lanka while the world turned its back, are still here raising money for mass murder. Surely we should now say and actually mean that time has run out for the paramilitary groups in our midst. We must make it clear that groups such as the IRA, which connive with extremists in other lands, which finance their activities through extortion and drugs and which resort to bombs and bullets in order to get their way, have no place in a free country. That message is not for us alone; it is also for our friends in America who are misguidedly one of the IRA's main sources of finance.
If we are serious in our determination to act against terrorism in all its forms, which clearly both the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are, then it is time to take the gloves off and to get down to business. If that proves to be unpleasant and painful and if it offends some people's sensitivities, that is a price that we, and they, must be prepared to pay. Otherwise, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" count for nothing.
My Lords, many noble Lords have spoken from great experience and with great expertise on the military and historical background of the present difficulties. Many have spoken with characteristic concern and generosity about the humanitarian dilemma that faces us. I simply want to make a few remarks based on my experience in Northern Ireland, where I have spent most of my adult life trying to bring some element of peace and tolerance during ongoing terrorist campaigns. I hope that they will not be seen merely as the dispirited comments of a Speaker whose Assembly is perilously close to suspension, but rather as words of caution.
I fear that in the tone and content of many of the contributions there has been a sense with which I am familiar. When good people come to Northern Ireland from this side of the water after 20 or 30 years, from a community where tolerance and plurality are watchwords--I see at least one of them in his place today--and attempt to deal with a place where terrorism is rife, one of my difficulties lies in persuading them when they have great difficulty in believing the words of those who hold entirely different views.
One of the problems with terrorists is that they tend to tell you what they intend to do and what they believe; but that is so unpalatable to people from a democratic society that we choose not to believe it and, instead, to make up explanations that are more appealing to us. For example, Mr bin Laden is very clear: out of his religious beliefs and convictions he wants to destroy western capitalism and liberal, democratic society, because he believes that these things are terribly wrong. He does not regard our wish, for example, to create a free and democratic society in Afghanistan where men and women have equal rights and opportunities, where there is peace and prosperity, freedom to travel and open and prosperous trade as greatly to be desired. He sees it as the work of the devil incarnate, and he wants to destroy that possibility, not only in the part of the world where he currently lives--it is not his home except in so far as he has made it so--but right across the face of the earth. He is clear about that.
So noble Lords are mistaken to say that this is all about poverty. Mr bin Laden is not a poor man and never has been. The members of Baader-Meinhof and the Red Army Faction were not poor people. Those who led the Shining Path were not poor, benighted, uneducated souls. Her Majesty's Government felt over a long period of time that in Northern Ireland the resolution was to ensure that there was no longer poverty in places such as West Belfast and pumped in huge amounts of money. It did not bring violence to an end; nor did it bring polarisation, sectarianism and extremism to an end. These matters are about people's beliefs and feelings. Not everyone wants to create the kind of society that we want to see and attempt to create. Indeed, some believe that it is dreadfully and terribly wrong--and not necessarily out of poverty. Most terrorism campaigns--I am not talking about disaffection and trouble on the streets but about international terrorism--rarely arise from a question of simple poverty.
That is not in any way to suggest that poverty, ignorance and disease are not matters to be dealt with, or that we should not already have been addressing the problems in Afghanistan, which have not arisen since 11th September and are not the cause of the events of that day. They had been present for a long time as a result of the drought and so on. Of course all these matters need to be dealt with as moral imperatives. But dealing with them will not resolve the terrorist campaign.
References have been made to the situation in the Middle East. That is also an area where matters need to be resolved. I happen to agree with the suggestions made by George Mitchell, whom I know from his previous incarnation, and with the suggestion that the Palestinians ought to have their own state. The idea seems eminently reasonable and I support it. But the House should not assume that that will bring to an end the wish to wipe Israel off the map. It will not. It is a naive illusion; it is wishful thinking.
The problem is much more difficult. It is not the case that when we address some of the social and economic problems everyone sits down, has a cup of tea with us and says, "Isn't it great? We're all going to live in the same happy liberal, democratic, pluralist, tolerant world. Some noble Lords have said that the solution lies in all religions wanting to respect each other and live in plurality. I wish that that were so. Right reverend Prelates no doubt complain about the remarks of clerics in my part of the world. They may even be tempted to say that what it being stated is not the Gospel, that it is not Christian. But those who say it do not believe that; they believe that the right reverend Prelates are not Christian and that they are not preaching the Gospel. That is a painful truth. When it is said that this has nothing to do with Islam, in a sense I understand that point. In a sense it is true. But those who are following it through believe that it is Islamic, and that is what is important in terms of dealing with the difficulties.
All the issues about making sure that such a slur is not applied are all well taken and are right. But my greatest fear at present is that Islamic fundamentalism--that is what it is, whether we like it or not--will spawn Christian fundamentalism in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel and Hindu fundamentalism in India. These things tend to produce their equal and opposite. Those who have more tolerant and pluralist ideas then tend to brushed aside. My remark is born of painful experience.
Yes, the social and economic questions need to be dealt with; but they will not in themselves necessarily resolve the problem. I plead that we take seriously what such people say about themselves, because they believe it. In holding such beliefs, they do not become "suicide bombers"--that is what we call them--they become martyrs to their cause; that is what they believe themselves to be. It is quite a different thing.
Furthermore, we are dealing with a different kind of difficulty. It is not new--indeed, this country began experiencing it in a serious way in the 19th century in relation to Ireland--but it has reached new levels for all kinds of reasons. That is not necessarily because the terrorists have the technology, but because they can now turn our technology against ourselves. Our capacity to communicate with and to translate people from one part of the world to another is turned, in the form of aircraft, into the destruction of those things that not only symbolise but are central features of world trade, with the use of a pen knife. It is not a question of whether such people have the technology--although it will be extremely frightening for us to discover some of the technology that may be available to them.
We are also dealing with a network. I hear the remarks that are made about Afghanistan. It is absolutely right that we should address those matters. My noble friend Lord Ashdown pointed out how careful we need to be in terms of interfering in that country. But this is not a tightly structured, hierarchical terrorist organisation. Cut off that head, and a whole lot of others spring up all over the place. The cell structure that was created was also created in the IRA many years ago and was extremely successful. Capture one person and it does not make any difference: he knows only another two or three people in the structure. It is highly effective. This is the world of networks--the Internet, relationships and communications. Dealing with it will not be easy.
What joins together Afghanistan, the United States and the United Kingdom? Afghanistan produces large amounts of drugs. The United States' top target for drugs is Colombia. Terrorists from the United Kingdom have recently been in Colombia with those who work using drugs and terrorism and who have links with Afghanistan. That network does not just sprout out of 11th September. The terrorists did not plan 11th September with the idea that they would then put their feet up, sit back and do nothing for the next four or five years while we put everything together. We must accept that there not only may, but will be more atrocities. Each time we come to London we take the risk of being involved in one such atrocity because London has been and remains a prime target.
We are living in a changed situation. I am relieved that our Government, the Government of the United States and other governments have not sat back but have reflected carefully before acting. Act they must--we must. No amount of talking and pleading will resolve the problems, but we must think through carefully what we are doing. We must face the unpalatable fact that the very thing that we want for ourselves and for others--liberal, pluralist, tolerant prosperous, free-trading, democratic countries in which men and women, young people and old, people of different religious faiths and of none can live together in plurality--is exactly the world that the terrorists want to destroy.
Terrorism is a tactic, but it is more than that. It is a way of thinking, a way of construing and understanding the world. It is a virus that is now well embedded in us and we must think and work hard, and face--as we often must with a disease--some unpleasant realities if we are to get the treatment right.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, has certainly injected a note of realism into the debate, for which I thank him. My speech is somewhat more optimistic, but, I hope, no less realistic. I want to speak about the necessity of dialogue. Of necessity, we have heard a lot about conflict this morning and this afternoon, but dialogue is necessary if the conflict is to be justified and if there is to be a programme of international reconstruction in the aftermath of that conflict.
Last month's tragic events have shown us in the most vivid possible way the urgency of dialogue between different systems of thought, polity and social organisation--the dialogue between civilisations to which President Khatami of Iran has drawn our attention. But as the Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung, never tires of pointing out, such a dialogue can be useful only if it is undergirded by dialogue between different religious traditions, for it is they which underlie so much of culture, politics and even economics.
One feature of our patchwork and plural world is that increasingly civilisations are not monolithic. People with different cultures, beliefs and world views now live cheek by jowl with one another. That means that, as my brother, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, pointed out, we must promote dialogue not only between civilisations but within them. I must point out to him that St. John of Damascus, to whom he referred, suffered at the hands not only of the iconoclasts in Byzantium but of the rulers whom he served, the Omayyads in Damascus. In the end, his left hand was amputated and he retired to a monastery in Jerusalem.
In this country, it is good that the need for dialogue has long been recognised. Leaders of faith communities are conscious of the importance of keeping lines of communication open, and bodies such as the Inter Faith Network, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Richardson of Calow, provide co-ordination within communities and between them and government. Of course, some may be reluctant to engage in any kind of conversation, but many are willing.
However, worldwide we need an immediate reorientation in our policy on exchanges, scholarships and research. The role of the British Council has been mentioned. Too much of our policy has been built on materialistic assumptions that have favoured the physical and life sciences and technology at the expense of subjects such as culture, faith and history--more elusive, but important nevertheless.
That policy has now been proved to be both narrow-minded and dangerous. There is a kind of scientific fundamentalism about it. Technical training takes no account of the uses to which science and technology may be put--whether terrorism, internal repression or exploitation of the poor. I have seen examples of all three. In future, we should be sure that we are engaging with beliefs, values and traditions, which are at the heart of cultures, rather than promoting optimistic and false beliefs about homogenising the world through the spread of technology.
Contrary to popular--and even, dare I say, scholarly--beliefs, there is a long tradition in the Islamic world of a civil polity that recognises the importance of intermediate political, judicious and religious institutions, which are seen to mediate, interpret and develop the injunctions of revelation, as Muslims see them. Such a society will, of course, be founded on the principles of Islam. As the former Chief Justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court, Dr. Nasim Hasan Shah, points out, the laws and institutions of such a society will be conducive to Muslims practising their faith, but they will not be coercive. That is the issue: no one will be forced to be a Muslim; no one will have to be a Muslim in a particular way decreed by the state.
In that connection, it is worth pointing out that the earliest so-called heretics in Islamic history were the Kharijites, who rejected all intermediate institutions, including the Caliphate, and proclaimed the direct rule of God--theocracy in its pure form--la- hukm illa- illa- li-lla-h. However, their view has never, I am glad to say, gained general acceptance in the Islamic world. For more than 200 years, leading Muslim scholars--both Shia and Sunni--have discussed the different ways in which the various schools of Islamic law, the Sharia, can be related to modern conditions.
It is of the utmost importance that those engaged in the building of civil society in the Islamic world, and those who are working for the development of Islamic law in the light of contemporary circumstances, are recognised and supported, not only by their own governments, but also by the wider international community.
Another area which merits further exploration and dialogue is that of jihad, mentioned already by the noble Lord, Lord Howell. That has been variously interpreted in Islam to mean struggling against oppression, against hostility to Islam and, as the noble Lord said, even against one's lower instincts.
I pointed out some years ago that dialogue about jihad and the Christian concept of the "just" war, could be fruitful. It may lead to a wider international consensus on the circumstances in which the use of armed force can be justified. We must listen carefully to what Muslims say about the rest of the world. If it is not an abode of a war--as traditionally described--what is it? We wait to hear the answers.
I am delighted, like other noble Lords, that there is to be substantial emergency aid for those likely to be affected by the current conflict. However, it is unlikely to be more than a fraction of the military cost. Both kinds of expenditure may be necessary now. But how do they compare to any political and diplomatic effort in solving major underlying problems which fuel militancy? Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya have all been mentioned today in this House. It may be that the resolution of these disputes does not eradicate terrorism, but it will certainly remove its sting in many parts of the world.
Encouraging better internal security in states at risk and choking off the financial supply routes of extremist organisations, both semi-official and illicit, is a sound policy. Public opinion worldwide may also tolerate overt military action provided that there is proper authority for it; that it is proportionate--by that I mean that it does not cause greater evil than the evil it is seeking to remove: that is the meaning of "proportionate" in just war theory--that it does not harm civilians; and that it is aimed at establishing an enduring peace and not more war.
Such action may bring about a backlash against Muslims living as minorities in the West and elsewhere--again, India comes to mind--and also against non-Muslim minorities living in predominantly Muslim countries. Therefore I welcome the steps being taken to prevent incitement to religious hatred here and I welcome the comments of my brother the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford about the protection of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries like Pakistan. It is crucial that government and law enforcement agencies be prepared for such an eventuality. Failure at this time would set back the cause of peaceful, multi-cultural and multi-fed societies by many years.
In relation to Afghanistan, further division will not clean up the country. Surely we need a United Nations sponsored conference which brings together the different ethnic and political groups as a first step towards a government of national unity which is then protected by some form of international guarantee.
Freedom from terrorism is a very significant prize, and people, including the populations of Muslim countries who have suffered the most, may be willing to pay the price. In the end however the battle is not just on poverty; it is also a battle for minds and hearts. That is why I return to my original theme of the importance of dialogue. That is why research, exchange and scholarships are important. That is why support for the development of civil society is important. And that is why increased political activity for the resolution of long-standing disputes is important. Military and security measures may at best cauterise the immediate sources of danger. But sustained and long-term action on many fronts is necessary if the causes of extremism are to be addressed effectively.
My Lords, it is quite a challenge to follow a speech of that order. This debate has been marked by the wisdom and insight, together with the courage, of a number of those who contributed.
We have so far heard three outstanding maiden speeches. Another speech--that of my noble friend Lord Ahmed--was particularly important because of the bravery it characterised. My noble friend left us in absolutely no doubt about what he saw, together with millions of others, as the essence and truth of Islam.
Tribute has been paid to many of those who responded so amazingly at the time of the grim events in New York, and to many of those who grappled with the aftermath. I should perhaps declare an interest as a former director of Oxfam and a member of the Oxfam Association, but I hope I shall be forgiven if I say that there is one group which I should like to be remembered on this occasion. I refer to the humanitarian workers in and around Afghanistan who, with determination, are selflessly demonstrating everything that we say our society is about. I hope that our thoughts will be there with them also at this difficult time.
In saying that, I commend what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said. In our humanitarian response we must think not only of the problem of Afghanistan itself and the refugees, but also of the burden on neighbouring states. In any strategy we devise on the humanitarian front, it must be one that looks to the region as a whole.
In the context of what I say without hesitation has been the measured and courageous leadership of our Prime Minister, certain principles have become very clear. The first is that we are living in an age when we can no longer speak about "national" interests as though they were somehow separable from the international community as a whole. We can only look to the well-being of our people by strengthening international institutions and international action and by the part we play co-operatively in the global community as a whole. The old distinction between national interests and perhaps an international commitment is no longer relevant. We now live in an international global reality.
The second principle which has become very clear is that if we are making a stand for civilised values, everything we do must be compatible with those civilised values. There was a lot of cold calculation in the ruthless acts that took place. We must deny those who planned them the victories that they seek, one of which is to demonstrate that when we are under pressure the values of which we speak begin to disintegrate. Never is it more important to demonstrate those values than in the midst of a crisis such as this.
The third principle, which I believe is becoming very clear and which I find reassuring, is that we talk more and more about justice--not just the administration of justice in the law courts, but justice in its fullest sense. That is why it has been so vital to demonstrate, as the Prime Minister and others have done, that we have no argument with the ordinary people of Afghanistan. If we accuse their government of being implicated in international crime on a massive scale and describe that government as tyrannical and oppressive, we cannot at the same time be prepared to do anything that punishes those who suffer under that government. That point has become increasingly clear.
It is also becoming clear that, in the context of those other considerations, evidence is very important. The more evidence that is available the better. If we are talking about justice, we have to produce evidence that will stand up to investigation and analysis. Of course there are security dimensions. As a former defence Minister, I am the first to recognise that. It would be wanton irresponsibility to deny it. However, as much evidence as possible must be available.
Alongside all those points has been the developing, powerful commitment to the humanitarian campaign. We have to win people's hearts and minds. The demonstration of our humanitarian commitment to their needs is as important as any military action that we may be contemplating.
That brings me to the interesting and challenging speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice. He is professionally expert in these areas of human behaviour and we must take seriously what he says. However, I ask him to consider one other political reality. One of the most difficult problems when dealing with terrorism or extremism is what I describe as the constituency of ambivalence that surrounds the terrorists. There are countless people who would not contemplate terrorist action themselves or who would be appalled by it if confronted with it immediately in their own situation but whose experience of life is so bad, having suffered oppression, deprivation and hopelessness, that sometimes they allow themselves to be tempted into believing that the terrorist or extremist is fighting for them. That is the battle we have to win. We have to tackle the constituency of ambivalence and demonstrate that we can win those people to something that they feel is on their side.
That is why the Middle East is so important. I am sure that the noble Lord is right that dealing with the problems there will not of itself solve all the problems of terrorism, but the grotesque sense of injustice about what is happening in the Middle East creates a ripe recruiting ground for the extremists. That is why it is so important for us to be even-handed and to be able to demonstrate even-handedness, not in a wishy-washy way but in a muscular way. That is why I am glad that one result of the crisis is an openness in talking about the need for a Palestinian state.
However, I sense something else underlying all this. I hope that your Lordships will forgive me. I have spent most of my life in international work, so I see Britain not just as we like to see our country, but in the way that many of those with whom I have mixed and worked abroad see it. We are deluding ourselves if we do not face up to the growing resentment among intelligent people across the world at what they see as an increasing tendency for the affluent and powerful nations to want to manage the world in their way. We have to come to terms with that fact because it is central to winning the battle against terrorism.
We are coming up to a new trade round. Are we doing everything conceivably possible to ensure that the world's less wealthy nations will be adequately represented in those negotiations, that they will have at their disposal the same expertise that we have at ours and that their rights will be furthered every bit as much as our interests? That is central to the issues that concern us.
In his powerful speech, the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, referred to the importance of the United Nations, not least because of the Russians. There is another reason why the UN matters. We have talked an awful lot in recent years about the European Union, NATO and the G7, but the majority of the world do not feel that they have a stake in those institutions. The UN represents global humanity, with all its inadequacies. That is why it is so important to have the authority of the UN behind what is done and to use the UN in every way possible. That means resourcing the UN, not just sentimentalising about it. We have to make sure that we give the necessary support to the Secretary General.
The international dimensions are not separate from the national issues. People look at Britain and ask whether we practise what we preach or whether we are just telling the rest of the world what we want them to do. That is why it will be important to see the Home Secretary's proposals for facing up to the new challenges. Of course things have to be done, but we shall have to look at his proposals carefully to ensure that they build up a picture of an enviable society and a model of what we believe that society should be about and do not undermine that objective.
Several noble Lords have referred to the importance of education. It cannot be over-emphasised. We have been too preoccupied in recent decades with the quantitative dimensions of education. We need to get back to the values and quality of education. In higher education, philosophy needs to play a far higher part in our university life than it is accorded at the moment. We need to discuss and be able to demonstrate what can be achieved by intellectual analysis, dialogue and discussion.
I hope that in all we do and however we do it, we shall not be ashamed of the principles that matter to us as individuals. We are sometimes a little defensive and feel that if we start talking about those principles we will seem wet or inadequate, so we end up talking about the tough management issues to make us feel important and relevant.
This crisis should bring home to us two principles that I am not ashamed to tell your Lordships matter to me deeply when I look at my own children and my grandson. I wish that we would talk more about peace. I wish that we would say that we are following tough policies overseas and at home to win the peace. We want peace in its fullest sense, because none of the other things that we talk about in terms of the fulfilment of personality will be possible without peace in that sense. I also hope that we can begin talking again about the creative power of love. As were others, I was struck that in the last moments, when people were dying a horrifying death, they took up their mobile phones and rang home with messages of love to their dear ones. I believe that it is love which is the real antidote to the hate and nihilism of the terrorists.
My Lords, we are all most concerned to restore to airline travellers the confidence that they once had. The Minister said in terms that we must do everything we can to ensure that such events do not happen again. The reason for my intervention in the previous debate was quite simple. I wished to have confirmation of the security arrangements in relation to the flight deck. Save in perhaps one case, the terrorists were able to force entry to the flight deck and then pilot with accuracy into the building the aeroplane which had become a flying bomb of enormous propensities. I asked for confirmation from the Minister, that it was only in the Israeli airline that the door to the flight deck was locked and bolted before the plane set off and remained so until it landed. There was a small hatch through which food was passed. But the instructions which were adhered to were that if a terrorist forced his way outside the flight door, and said, "If you don't open the door I will blow up the plane", the threat was ignored. I believe that there has been only one case where the Israeli process did not succeed.
The Minister very kindly said in his response when winding up that as regards the specific point put by me,
"Israeli airlines indeed operate a policy of locking the flight door and not opening it during the flight, irrespective of threats".--[Official Report, 14/9/01; col. 96.]
He very courteously offered to discover whether that only applied to Israeli airlines and in particular what was our position in the United Kingdom. With his characteristic courtesy and true to form, he wrote to me on 28th September a letter which I received the day before yesterday. He has put a copy of the letter in the Library so that I do not need to quote much from it. He said,
The letter continues,
"The CAA has been considering operating procedures, and, in particular, questions of access to the flight deck following an incident earlier this year involving a disturbed passenger on a flight to Nairobi. In the light of the recent attacks in America, the CAA has brought forward requirements on UK airlines, that it was considering as part of that work. Instructions were issued to all UK passenger airlines on
The Minister details four of them. The first is the locking of doors to the flight deck compartment. That sounds helpful. He goes on to refer to the restriction on the movement of the flight crew during flight. As I understand it, that shows that although the flight door may be locked it is opened from time to time in order that the crew may stretch their legs in every sense of that term. Food is provided by the stewardess going through the door which is unlocked to let her in.
I accept entirely that it is very inconvenient for the aircrew to be locked in the flight deck for the whole of the journey. The food position can be overcome, but other more complex arrangements may have to be made. But that inconvenience is a small price to pay for the added security of the Israeli airline where the locked door principle to which I have made reference has been almost 100 per cent. successful. I hope that the Government will stress to the CAA that the pilots must put up with the inconvenience.
My noble and learned friend Lord Lloyd of Berwick has pointed out that in his view that is a requirement that can be waved aside because intelligence would produce all that was required. But there is no incompatibility between improving on intelligence and improving physically the safety of the flight deck.
I spoke for five minutes on the previous occasion and I have spoken for only seven minutes now. I hope I can thus continue to ingratiate myself with your Lordships. In my more affluent days I had a tailor who used to say that judges shine most on their seats. I shall resume mine now.
My Lords, I am very glad that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, addressed the House about the airlines. I am not sure that the answer lies simply in the way that airline crews are closeted in their cabins. As I understand it, the Israelis also have sky marshals. That has to be considered by the airlines and trade unions concerned. As usual, we are greatly indebted to the noble and learned Lord for raising this important issue.
In common with other noble Lords, it is with an immensely heavy heart that I speak today in the wake of the profoundly tragic events which bring us together and on the brink of momentous decisions which have to be taken to continue to ensure the continued peace and freedom of civilised people everywhere. It is an enormous privilege to have heard from my noble friend Lord Judd and the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, who is not at present in the Chamber.
On a personal level, before I resume my remarks about the tragic events in New York and elsewhere, I am deeply sad, too, that we are missing Lord Shore of Stepney--Peter, as he was known to many of us. He wanted to be here; he wanted to make one of his usual distinguished contributions to our debates. He was my former Secretary of State and he was my friend. He collapsed just after speaking in the House before the Recess when a similar issue was being discussed. He died after a long and valiant struggle. He will be seriously and severely missed by many of us.
Today we face a nightmare scenario. There are threats of terror, of nuclear, germ or chemical warfare. To cause us to succumb is the objective of bin Laden, his associates and those who protect him. They seek to promote fear to weaken our resolve.
The terrorists are sophisticated. They demonstrated on 11th September that they possess the expertise to pervert ordinarily benign apparatus for a massively dangerous purpose. They care nothing for human life--least of all their own. That is why international solidarity is all important. In Europe and elsewhere, we must continue to build on the dialogue and the alliances that can firmly and vigorously challenge the new enemy in our modern world. The United States should be congratulated. In the face of intolerable provocation but without revengeful reaction, they are seeking to build a coalition in the civilised world.
At the same time, all of us need to try, to a far greater extent than ever before, to understand the culture of those who view the west with suspicion, or even hatred. We are not at war with Islam and it is not at war with us. Ninety-nine per cent of our Islamic fellow citizens are at one with those of differing faiths, and none, in the battle to eliminate terrorism and all that it stands for. I believe that that is the view of ordinary people in our country.
The Taliban, by their own admission, have vowed to destroy democratic values. They have no concept of equality or proportionality. They do not understand what these words mean. Women have no part in the everyday life of the Taliban--they have no rights to education or employment. They have no rights even over their own bodies. The Taliban do not speak for the majority of Muslim opinion.
The moderate Muslim world and others must recognise that the problem is far larger than the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. The Middle East struggle has to be resolved. The Palestinians must recognise Israel's right to be there--to exist. Equally, the Palestinians have a right to self-determination. But, let us make no mistake, fanaticism will continue--Israel today; where else tomorrow?
Fatwas will extend from individuals to countries. None of us will be immune. Terror is not the prerogative of only one ideology or faith, as we know to our cost. Some western policies must be changed and I believe that our Government will be mindful of how and where we can help to bring that about. We have to move towards a fairer distribution of the world's bounty. It is necessary to recognise that there are people in the world who are poverty stricken. Terrorism is sometimes blind to that. The message that comes through from the United States Administration is not always helpful in that respect, but given good government and wise leadership, these issues can be resolved.
We need to reinforce our basic values and not to retreat from them. That is why, as my noble friend Lord Judd said, we need to scrutinise carefully the legislative proposals in this House as they might impinge on those values--values that many of us have sought to underline in this debate.
Those who perpetrated this atrocity attacked everything that every decent human being holds dear. We must learn from the tragedy and act upon it.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, and to associate myself from this side of the House with his remarks on Lord Shore, who also happened to be a friend of mine.
In this debate, much has been said which requires no repetition. The Government have the unequivocal support of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and the Liberal Democrat Party, save as to domestic legislation requisite to implement such support, in particular for extradition and asylum, about which the Liberal Democrat Party has hoisted a danger cone, which in due course will engender discussion in Parliament.
Do not the speeches of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, and my noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth have crucial input? How is terrorism to be defined? What is the strategy? What is the measured military aim? What is the order of withdrawal? What extra provision for expenditure will be announced for our overstretched Armed Forces? What is to be done about terrorism on our doorstep in Northern Ireland? Do not the suggestions of my noble friend Lord Strathclyde warrant the urgent attention of the Government? Without breaching security, if it is possible some response would be welcome.
Against that background, perhaps it may be said that it will take some time for the world to recover from the trauma of these waves of seismic shock and it will take months if not years to root out Al'Qaeda and international terrorism. Is it not plain, our common bond with America, our most profound sympathy, our admiration for the courage, resolve and resilience of the American people, which has been acknowledged by the Queen and also by our Churches, mosques and other religious institutions and in this House?
The fortitude and restraint of President Bush under the ultimate provocation of a series of assassinations which would have astounded the assassins and the scale of material and economic destruction has been truly remarkable. Under his leadership of the United States of America, a coalition without precedent has been set up to deter, detect and contain further such terrorist attacks, not only by Al'Qaeda, as the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, mentioned. By all means, it is an alliance which has the unqualified support of the Government and the Opposition which has to succeed and shall succeed. In particular, the support of Pakistan, Russia and other Islamic states and ethnic groups are of vital consequence and are welcome.
However, the attitude of Iraq is much to be regretted. Whether by accident or design, the area of conflict over which that massive naval presence stands guard could widen and escalate into war in the Middle East, which is not the purpose of the alliance. A massive resort to arms is not envisaged and the hope must be that such a situation does not arise. But the tinder is there. We now know that the case against bin Laden and the Taliban has been established to the satisfaction of the United Nations and NATO, which has joined the alliance.
The alliance envisages a long-term campaign, implemented by selected specific armed operations with the broad approval of the United Nations, NATO and the international community. Armed intervention against the Taliban would be such an operation. In the planning of such an operation, account has been taken to provide shelter, food and medical care for the refugees as the humanitarian aspect of that situation. The House has been assured of that in some detail and one naturally accepts that assurance.
The 11th September served as an augury of ill omen for the safe conduct of the world. There is the overwhelming justification for armed intervention against the Taliban to destroy bin Laden's organisation, apprehend bin Laden, destroy the poppy crops used by him to fund international terrorism and debilitate and undermine the West, and destroy the stockpile (about 3,000 tonnes) from the millions of acres of poppy fields under the control of the Taliban, worth about £20 billion on the market and available to fund further attacks by the organisation. Bin Laden is sheltered by the Taliban as a safe haven and it is much to be doubted whether he is an unwelcome guest as the Taliban support what I would call the fatwa jihad, referred to by my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford, and is prepared for such a war but only in the hope of support from Islamic states and organisations.
Under public international law there is the legitimate entitlement on the evidence referred to by the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House to resort to armed intervention in self-defence to prevent future attacks and destabilisation of the West with drugs, crime and money laundering. It is a legitimate act of self-defence, not a punitive reprisal for 11th September. The Taliban is not a state and it is not recognised by the government of Afghanistan. Who shall govern Afghanistan after the armed intervention remains to be seen. We support the Afghan people but what shall be grown in the poppy fields instead of the poppy crops which fuel these funds?
At present, these poppy crops are the means of subsistence of the people. Ancient customs of war meant that you did not destroy the vines but the vines could not be used as means of aggression for further attack--or to supply 80 per cent of the drugs market of the world. Does not one again revert to the questions of the noble and gallant Lord and seek some answers? What shall be grown in those fields? Who shall govern the people? What is the military aim and the time for withdrawal? It was suggested by the right reverend Prelate that the appropriate disposal of this could be United-Nations sponsored and, with respect, that does not seem at all a bad idea.
All religions have zealots and extremists but few believe that in committing suicide to assassinate others they do the will of God to receive their reward in heaven. As my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford said, historically the Islamic regime is essentially tolerant and benign, at all events compared with the excesses of Christians committed against each other and against others. Assuredly this is no confrontation with Israel or the people of Afghanistan.
Diplomacy, as we have heard today from the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House, has already had a truly remarkable success and is in the process of continuing at this very moment. It is the cornerstone of the alliance and shall continue as such. Already steps have been taken: national and international shared intelligence and security; extradition and asylum proposals; money laundering--freezing assets and bureaux de change; and so forth.
But surely the main achievement would be to safeguard the integrity of Israel and found a Palestinian state, having set up a dialogue such as that referred to by the right reverend Prelates, the Bishops of London and Rochester; an alliance of those of many faiths, according to their creed, to oppose international terrorism in the concept of a universal God, and of what is good and what is evil.
Irrespective of whether we are about to enter some "new world", as envisaged in the Revelations of St. John, is it not plain that in the course of time the purpose of this alliance shall be achieved, and shall be achieved not only by resort to arms?
"they shall not see who hurts them".
Those are the last words of the Mounteagle letter, giving warning to Parliament of the gunpowder plot. They are a reminder that there is nothing new about terrorism. It is also very clear indeed that ever since 5th November 1605 terrorism has done a great deal more to unite Parliament than to divide it. That is because it is an assault on precisely those values which we have most completely in common; an assault on what makes us a House.
For that reason it is tempting to spend a long time testifying to one's feelings about terrorists. However, there is a long list of speakers; we are among friends; and I hope that I shall be understood if I confine myself to one single story about the day that the IRA bombing campaign of the Tube began. I was bringing my two and-a-half year old son back from his nursery. We had just got onto the Tube at Tottenham Court Road when it was announced that a bomb had been found at Oxford Circus. It was not known how many more bombs there might be around the line and all trains were being held while they were searched.
Into a silence in which you could have heard a pin drop, a small voice floated up from my knee, "By the way, daddy, what is a bomb?" That boy is now the holder of a post-graduate degree in strategic studies. He has just produced his first serious publication on the verification process for some of the disarmament agreements of the seventies. I regard that as an intelligent response to a real threat.
One interesting point, to which the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, drew attention, is the change in the military balance between official and unofficial force. I was interested in the noble Lord's remark about the miniaturisation of weapons. Exactly the same thing happened in the late 16th century with the invention of the portable and concealable pistol, as William the Silent discovered to his cost.
This is a significant shift in the balance between official and unofficial force, between the state and the forces of disorder. When that has happened before, it has diminished the importance of states and increased the importance of causes. The whole history of the late period of the Reformation illustrates that very clearly. It creates an internationalisation of conflict in which the relations between states become of less relevance, both to the problems and to the solutions. When one finds an Algerian being trained on the Kidbrooke Estate in south London for an act of terrorism in the United States by an organisation based in Afghanistan and taking orders from a Saudi, one cannot help but wonder whether the nation state really has a particularly large part in the remedy, or whether it is like trying to drill one's way through living rock with the aid of a plastic bucket and spade.
I entirely understand why this issue has made the Prime Minister think in international terms, not only of the European Union, but also of the United Nations and of other international organisations. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, about the United Nations was well taken. It is a world in which national sovereignty seems a good deal less relevant than it did before 11th September.
I was also interested in the remarks of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, about how misleading it is to talk about the struggle against terrorism as a war, and his warning about ill-directed, punitive action. On Tuesday, there was an extremely interesting article in The Times by Professor Sir Michael Howard, a former Regius professor, not the former Home Secretary, and, incidentally, the former head of the department of war studies at King's College, London. He said:
"Today we are threatened by a transnational conspiracy; not against any specific national or imperial authority, but against the entire international order. In dealing with it the rhetoric and expectations of 'war' are counter-productive and much military experience irrelevant."
Therefore, if we think in terms of victory we may really be missing the point. What my noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby had to say about hearts and minds is a great deal more relevant.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, rightly drew attention to the fact that the currency of a struggle against terrorism is intelligence. In dealing with intelligence, it is absolutely vital to have the sympathy of what the noble Lord, Lord Judd, called the constituency of ambivalence. So a great many of the techniques have more in common with the fighting of an election campaign, which, after all, we are supposed to know something about, than they do with the techniques of war.
I heard also what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said about the apocalyptic terror. The right reverend Prelate is right about that. Those who, like one of the 17th century Fifth Monarchists, talk about "the military officers of the Lamb", tend to be beyond reach of dialogue. My noble friend Lord Alderdice, with whom I have had some conversation and will have a great deal more, was absolutely right about this issue. But the person who got this right was King James VI and I who directed in the propaganda sermons on the gunpowder plot that what must be done was to separate out the moderates from the extremists; to address the constituency of ambivalence; to assume their loyalty; and to address their misgivings. The history of the treatment of Roman Catholics since the gunpowder plot shows that we did not get that right and we are still paying for it.
On the day that the news of the gunpowder plot reached Bishop Auckland everyone in the village lit a bonfire to celebrate the king's deliverance. One woman was out shopping. While she was out, her children lit a fire inside the house. A neighbour told her what had happened. She rushed back and got it put out. But she happened to be a Roman Catholic. One of her Protestant neighbours informed on her for failing to have a bonfire to celebrate the king's deliverance. The authorities did not believe her story and she died in prison. I do not know whether her children turned into conspirators. If they did, that is the sort of thing we ought to have expected. One should be careful not to overreact and behave in a way that produces extremists where there would be none otherwise.
As to Ireland, I have seen a 17th century order that any trees within 100 yards of the River Bann should be cut down because they provided cover for snipers. The disease has a deep hold. It may be easier now in some other places to separate moderates from extremists--but no more so than 300 years ago which is when we should have started.
It is peculiarly stupid as well as unfortunate that we are facing attacks on not only British Muslims but also Hindus and Sikhs. I was talking at the Liberal Democrat conference to a council leader from one of our great northern cities. He spoke about a friend of his who entered the local post office and was spat upon. That friend happens to be an American. Irony cannot get much deeper.
Charles Kennedy was right. The root of the evil is hatred of diversity, which is something we all have to overcome because diversity is with us to stay. Mercifully, hatred does not appear to have taken hold in my own borough of Brent where the English happen to be a racial minority--and that is very good for us. The English are the fourth racial group in the area after the Irish, Afro-Caribbeans and Asians.
I have one or two misgivings but I do not want it thought that I am expressing misgivings about the Government's handling of the issue as a whole. A great deal has been done right. It will not surprise Ministers to know that my misgivings relate principally to asylum. Mr. Blunkett wants to deport people who are guilty of or suspected or terrorism. I am anxious about people being "suspected" of terrorism. After all, the Home Office is a suspicious body. With Roman Catholics, the authorities knew that suspicion was not enough so they decided that Roman Catholics could be arrested provided they were vehemently suspected. I can imagine that phrase catching on in the Home Office.
It is open to question whether Article 1.5 of the United Nations Convention on Refugees already provides sufficient protection. If it does, UK legislation is unnecessary. If it does not, I wonder whether new legislation is anyway justified. I remain absolutely and entirely unrepentant about the protection that we gave during the 1960s and 1970s to members of the African National Congress. I shall not enter into argument over whether there is any natural right to change one's government. That is not a constructive question. Under any circumstances in recorded history, there have always been people who wanted a change of government. If they did not have any legal means, they tended to use illegal means. In times past they included people who removed monarchs of this country. Where there is no legal right to remove a government, can we treat that in exactly the same way as a body such as ETA, which could remove a government through the ballot box if only it knew how to set about winning--which clearly it does not.
I was concerned by the Prime Minister's remarks on "Breakfast with Frost" last Sunday when he spoke of claiming a power to detain asylum seekers suspected of terrorist links and to deport them automatically, without right of appeal. Again, I do not see how one can reconcile a power to detain on suspicion with the European Convention on Human Rights fair trial provision or with the UN convention. There is a requirement enshrined in any document one chooses to look at--from the 1951 UN convention back to Magna Carta--of due process, which is part of natural justice. It has never been determined in the courts, so far as I know, how far--if at all--a statute is capable of overriding the principles of natural justice. The principle that one interprets a statute according to the intentions of Parliament goes back before there were any reported parliamentary debates. One interpreted the statute according to the basic principles of common law as one knew it.
I have an uncorrected transcript of a case involving the Home Office in November 1996 but I have checked the passage that I will quote with the noble and learned Lord. It was stated in the case that if Parliament wishes to confer a power to act unfairly, it must say so in express words. That is not something I see Parliament being in a great hurry to do. If we want to enter that particular territory, we may find ourselves entering a deeper legal thicket than the Prime Minister realised at the moment of speaking.
The present Prime Minister has done a great deal to improve the quality of legal advice available to the Government. I hope that he will continue to do so on that point.
My Lords, today is one of those occasions when it is safe to say, "I wish I were not here". I remember looking at the seemingly endless heights of the World Trade Centre on my first visit to New York nearly 18 years ago and a cousin of mine speaking proudly about it. The symbolic character of its tragic demise, in which 7,000 people from 62 countries perished, cannot be over-estimated.
Following the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London speaking on behalf of a city that has known terrorism, I want to give a couple of Portsmouth perspectives. We have an unusually small proportion of ethnic and religious minorities, which therefore places good relations at a premium. The evening after "Terrifying Tuesday", as I believe it is still called in New York, the dean of our cathedral went to prayer in the local mosque. Such gestures and the relationships that they express and foster will become more and more important in other parts of the country where there are sizeable Muslim communities, to encourage better understanding and prevent the escalation of unthinking and ill-informed behaviour, which can so easily spill over into violence on our streets. That is particularly so if the present conflict is going to be long lasting.
Another Portsmouth dimension is the presence in the Gulf of 24 ships and two submarines in the Saif Sareea exercise, which has been planned for some time. I am told that although there are contingency plans for a possible future conflict, as in any other naval exercise, that is not primarily why those naval vessels are off the coast of Oman at present. Regrettably, there has been some heightened tension among those at training establishments--although things have settled down.
I cannot help observing that some public comments and reporting in recent days have not been entirely helpful to the families concerned. We are sometimes told to "globalise our compassion" and to see certain tragedies, including that of three weeks ago, in the wider perspective of others. We need to globalise that compassion in relation to our service families and to show some signs of that rather elusive virtue--restraint.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, suggested, there is a real need to understand why these events have happened. An internal cooling system needs to operate underneath the revulsion which we all naturally feel. Among its mechanisms could be, first, education--which is not the same as indoctrination--including religious education which is balanced, such as already has to take place in many of our Church schools. Secondly, as was pointed out by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London both today and in the debate on 14th September, there should be a recognition that religion persists in being an integral part of the world-wide scene and is not to be easily dismissed as backward and merely irrational. Thirdly, there should be a recognition of religion as comprising ancient ways of life that are not to be patronisingly swept aside in the interests of catching up with the rest of us. Fourthly, there must be recognition that 11th September marks the end of an era in which many of us thought, through the 90s, that the world was moving towards a more or less unified civilisation, whereas diversity is a fact of life in all its inconvenient variations, as was pointed out by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and the noble Lord, Lord Judd.
But more than all those factors, belief of whatever kind, not just religious, needs constantly to have a critique, not in order to deconstruct it, but to strengthen its foundations, remove its weaknesses, and to help it to retain its essential characteristics and move on to new terrain. There is an inbuilt tension in every single religious, philosophical and, I dare say, political and economic system.
All three major world religions have a noble tradition of critique and interpretation which, at best, can be most impressive in its workings and results, including for those whose beliefs are not religious but ethical, economic or to do with lifestyle. Sometimes, tragically, that critique has to be won by conflict rather than by genteel conversation. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, for his contribution to the debate. However, we must hold on to the view that religiously-motivated terrorism is an affront to sacred texts.
I want to comment on the expression "strategic patience". Today is the day when many Christians celebrate St Francis of Assisi, who died on this day in 1226. Among the many sayings attributed to him is one which probably does come from the horse's mouth:
"Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society".
I am sure that your Lordships will see the point of that remark, even if its religious base is not shared by all.
We need to look carefully at our domestic affairs at this time in order to make them commensurate with the stand we are taking internationally. That means, for example, having a well thought-out, clearly understood immigration policy--which we do not have at present--and an asylum system which quickly identifies the genuine from the non-genuine and confuses neither with the genuine, not the suspected, terrorist. That is particularly important in terms of perceptions in the public eye as well as with regard to the internal workings of the system. As the son of an MI6 officer who did not do terribly interesting work interviewing escaped prisoners of war in Stockholm during the war--about which he kept his mouth shut when I was a boy--I welcome the wise words in the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, about identity cards, the workings of intelligence systems and how we can be more open than we are at present.
But "strategic patience" means more. It means cherishing the truth that no event is inevitable--however long it has been waiting to happen--precisely because of the creative capacities, including imagination, which we possess by virtue of our free will. Free will allows us to behave responsibly as well as irresponsibly. As I try to understand why those men flew those aeroplanes into those buildings, I do not want the process to end with a shrug of a shoulder and the shedding of some tears.
I shall go further. I echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, in her eloquent speech at the start of the debate. I refer to her remarks about bringing good out of evil. It is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith that nothing is irredeemable. There are times when that faith falters but, as has so often been the case in the past, new life somehow emerges, which many people dare to ascribe to the strategic patience of God, however we worship and serve, celebrate and mourn--and continue to live.
My Lords, three weeks after the tragic events in America on 11th September, we, the British Muslims, are still reeling from the aftershock. Scenes of the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre took with it the confidence of the Muslim community living as citizens of the world.
Sadly, it is only now that one becomes aware that a substantial number of those who died in that appalling terrorist tragedy were Muslims. Estimates from rescue workers in New York put the figure as high as over 1,000. Many Muslim families were among those mourning the death of their loved ones in this heinous act.
Contrary to the comments made yesterday to The Times by a former Prime Minister and once great champion of the movement that led to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the vast majority of British Muslims and their brethren throughout the world have categorically condemned the horrendous act of terrorism inflicted on America.
It is beyond tolerance and acceptance that the Muslims who have no truck with violence and terror are asked again and again to assure loyalty. Shia and Sunni, scholars and laymen, men and women, in private and public have been loyal. The vast majority of Muslims throughout the world have not minced their words or their actions in the condemnation of the attacks. British Muslims and Muslim countries have been in the forefront in expressing their shock and horror and in reflecting on the tragedy.
For the past few weeks, mosques up and down the country have been performing special prayers for those who have died and those who are grieving. At the same time we are also praying for patience, understanding, tolerance and eradication of such evil from our midst.
My Lords, 11th September changed the nature of global solidarity and politics. A British Foreign Office Minister visited Iran. The President of the United States took off his shoes and entered a mosque. Inside he told the American people and the world, "Islam means peace". He spoke in prime time before the joint union of the Senate and the House of Representatives and said that terrorists not only hijack planes but attempt also to "hijack Islam". According to many independent observers, it was the day that marked the transition of the USA from being a mere superpower to perhaps being seen to be a courageous, fair leader and nation.
On 14th September, in an address to the House the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told British Muslims and Muslims throughout the world in no uncertain terms that it was not Islam or the Muslims that caused this terror. The Prime Minister also reiterated that point when, together with the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and others and alongside a number of organisations, I met him at Downing Street. The Prime Minister has raised the value and confidence of the British Muslim community. I believe that he has demonstrated leadership and authority in putting forward a calm, measured approach to the atrocities. The joint comments of solidarity and understanding by President Bush and Tony Blair will be noted and remembered, particularly by the 20 million Muslims living as citizens of the West. The racist elements within our society need more than statements to contain their hatred and bigotry. I am proud, therefore, that our Government are to introduce legislation to combat religious hatred and discrimination. That is much awaited and a victory for those who believe in fairness and the ideals of freedom, justice and tolerance that we all seek to share.
I should like to comment on the current position of the media. Coverage of the event was far from equal or effective. However, the recent restraint and responsibility of the mainstream media are much to be welcomed. In Islam, as with other great religions, we are taught to look for the positive even in the worst situation and that even among the evil that drowns us there is a current trend that gives us all hope.
In the past three weeks, the British Muslim community has emerged onto the nation's consciousness as never before. Long invisible and marginalised in most efforts at social inclusion and regeneration, it is now time for policy makers and government to take stock of present and future initiatives.
A briefing paper by the Centre for Muslim Policy Research, CMPR, a London-based think-tank on Muslim affairs, inquires, rightly, what the new community order will mean for the 2 million Muslim community in Britain, many of whom are at the bottom of the ladder of every government statistic collected, whether on education, housing, access to employment or other initiatives. I have mentioned that on many occasions, but today is not the day to elaborate.
Events in New York and Washington have been a baptism by fire of British Muslims. Buoyed up by the rightful recognition extended to them finally by the political establishment, one cannot expect the largest sector of the country's visible minorities to return to their excluded boxes. The response of all of us who are active in community relations in the coming weeks, months and years, must include empowerment and an enabling of the proper leadership which exists within the grass roots of our community up and down the land--and I do not mean some of the leadership thus far demonstrated in several broadsheet newspapers as "coming from the community". We in this House must urge the Government to ensure that leadership is not allowed to languish in the hands of a few male leaders--I hesitate to make any divisive comment--who have no base or credibility within the community.
I am pleased to say that during the past few weeks searching questions have been asked at all sections of government corridors about the longer term effect of the attack in America. As was said earlier, this is indeed an opportunity to address and redefine the social exclusion agenda, which often has not included those stuck at the bottom of the statistics I mentioned earlier. Public policies must examine how their impact can help include the marginalised British Muslims into the social cohesion to which we all aspire.
The Centre for Muslim Policy Research is of the opinion that the integration of Britain's 2 million Muslims should now be a top priority for the Government. I agree. The centre has suggested a number of measures which I should like to share with the House. The first is that government departments and policy makers from all authorities should make a commitment to engage in a serious dialogue--with practical actions to back it up--with the Muslim communities and not only with the leaders that I have mentioned. This dialogue must be inclusive and transparent. For it to be meaningful, the dialogue must be primarily with the grass roots community and leadership. It must also reflect the richness and diversity of the Muslim communities, which hitherto has not necessarily been apparent.
More significantly, we must ensure the presence of women in meaningful positions and visible authority--and not only in the House of Lords. I believe that it will be women who will inevitably take the brunt of the peace building, as they have taken the brunt of attacks up and down the country. I have been going around with the Home Office community review team, and up and down the country--in the north of England as well as in the south--the number of reported attacks on women has been unacceptable. However, I wish to say that it has been reported that the police have acted very promptly in dealing with some of them.
Secondly, there is a need to focus on education. Both the national curriculum and the environment in which education is provided need to be evaluated and challenged if necessary. Schools must be the primary source of providing the relevant education essential for the emergence of civil society.
Thirdly, indirect forms of anti-Muslim discrimination and "Islamophobia" must be identified and appropriately combated. Immediate action is needed to ensure that Muslim communities are not by-passed in government initiatives aimed at social inclusion. This is very significant. More important steps need to be taken to incorporate Muslims into public life. The aim is to access the community into mainstream and vice versa. The lack of British Muslims in public jobs is incredibly glaring. The appointment of a few into insignificant positions smells of tokenism--certainly that is how it is seen outside--and it is no longer acceptable because there are so many qualified and competent people around. It is important that the community itself feels that it has a stake in the changes that are required of it.
I have listened to a number of speeches during the debate--I am sorry that I have not been able to attend all of it--and the contributions of some noble Lords have made me immensely proud. I never thought I would live to see the day when, in a British Parliament, on the Floor of the House, an American president would be quoted as asking for the state of Palestine to be considered, or that I would witness noble Lords talking about justice for the Palestinian people.
I thank noble Lords for their patience in regard to some of my hesitancy. I am proud of what has been said today and of some of the stands that have been taken.
My Lords, the event of 11th September was one of the worst terrorist events in the recent history of the world. It was a tragedy which took about 6,000 innocent civilian lives. But, as the details have emerged, it is becoming clear that many families have been scarred, perhaps forever. It is estimated that some 10,000 children have lost a parent. This event is clearly terrorism at its worst and must be dealt with as an attack on democracy and humanity, and the terrorists must be brought to justice.
The coalition needs to move forward resolutely but cautiously, with sadness rather than in anger. The target should be the terrorists and not innocent civilians. The coalition's primary objective should be to bring the terrorists to justice. In the civilised world in which we live, delivery of justice is not in the hands of the government or of the police but in the hands of courts of law. If the coalition acts in any different way, we will have lost the higher moral ground. If the coalition kills innocent civilians and does not bring the terrorists to justice, there will be little difference between the terrorists and us.
I also should like to pay tribute to the mature leadership provided by our Prime Minister on the world stage. He has not only worked very hard by helping to build a coalition but has managed to convince the coalition of the need to plan, gather intelligence and avoid the temptation in anger indiscriminately to resort to arms. The whole vocabulary has changed in the past three weeks. The coalition is talking more about justice than about revenge; there are more concerns about civilians and what the Afghans have suffered over the past 22 years; and, lastly, reasoned consideration has been given to refugees, destabilisation of the neighbouring countries and the severe food shortages in Afghanistan. The coalition and certainly this country owe a debt to our Prime Minister for his statesmanship and the leadership he has given to deal with the horrifying effects of international terrorism and its undermining of the foundations of our democracy.
I should like to raise some issues of which we need to be aware and how we can avoid or minimise the damage to innocent people. First, there is the issue of demonising the faith of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and justice and does not condone indiscriminate acts of violence. The Holy Qur'an states:
"Verily, Allah commands justice and benevolence . . . and He forbids obscenity and deeds and oppression. He cautions you that you may take heed".
It is essential, therefore, to separate the terrorists from the religion of Islam, and it is reassuring that the Prime Minister and the President of the USA have recognised and emphasised this distinction.
Muslims the world over and particularly in this country and in the USA have shown their sorrow and distress over the events of 11th September. There are over a billion Muslims in the world and they form about a quarter of the world population. Closer to home some 435 million Muslims live in the Commonwealth forming about 25 per cent of its population. Those are large numbers of people and therefore our Government and, indeed, the coalition partners should protect, respect and respond to the fears and frustrations of Muslim communities.
There are some 2 million Muslims who live in the United Kingdom who currently live in fear. Those of us who are close to our communities are aware of the huge numbers of verbal and physical attacks they have suffered since 11th September. I may add that hardly 1 per cent of such incidents are reported. It is important that the Government and the police create a climate of calm and support for the Muslim community in the UK and state clearly that the full force of law will be applied quickly and effectively to those who break the law. I was happy to hear that the Home Secretary is in the process of revising the present legislation to ensure that Muslims are protected under the law in the same manner as those of other faiths. I recommend that the Home Secretary consults key Muslim organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain, the Bradford Council of Mosques, FAIR and other important organisations to ensure that the amendments to the legislation will help and protect Muslim communities.
Secondly, as regards the media and its role, the superficial and often misleading way in which the media treat Islam needs to change. Islam is little understood or not understood at all in the West. In these difficult times the media need to be aware of the sentiments of Muslims and to stop demonising the world of Islam. The words "Muslim or Islamic terrorist" have gained common currency, totally ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Muslims across the world condemn such acts of terrorism and want no part of them. The media therefore need to play their part more constructively and thoughtfully. We need to accept and understand that there are terrorists in all faiths and countries and that they have to be dealt with under the laws of the land. Over many, many years the democratic world has brought freedom to its citizens on the foundation of the rule of law and justice knowing that only the rule of law will ensure freedom, justice and democracy. In the past hundred years it is in the West that the world has witnessed some of the worst kinds of atrocities, such as the Second World War, the Holocaust and the recent ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. In all three cases attempts have been made to bring the culprits to the courts. Therefore, it is incumbent that the media instead of demonising Islam should focus on bringing terrorists everywhere to justice.
Thirdly and lastly, I wish to highlight the plight of Afghan civilians. The bulk of the civilians of Afghanistan have endured some 22 years of war and strife. There is nothing left in that country. As a reporter recently said, there is nothing to bomb there. Most of the buildings, houses and infrastructure have been destroyed. Starvation is never far away. Some 7 million Afghans are near starvation level today and many millions are on the move to neighbouring countries as refugees. Not only will those refugees suffer but they have the potential to destabilise the countries which give them asylum. Unless the coalition proceeds cautiously with clearly defined short and long-term objectives, it will find that in solving one problem it will have created new and possibly even more dangerous problems with far-reaching consequences for the whole region. The billions that are being spent to deal with terrorism may be justified but more resources need to be allocated to the current disaster relief and to the long-term development of Afghanistan. DfID under the Secretary of State, Clare Short, should be given the resources required to undertake that work.
I finish by quoting Oxfam of which I was a trustee until last year. I am currently a member of its association. It states:
"The situation is so difficult because it is a combination of disasters, a war on top of a war, worsened by a three year drought and it will be compounded by the arrival of winter. Aid agencies alone cannot tackle this. Without a massive international effort now, just keeping people alive will be beyond us. Airlift of food aid might already be out of the question. To feed 6 million people, we would need more than 125 flights of Hercules airplanes each day. This might be mathematically possible, but unlikely to happen because civilian planes cannot fly in a war zone. Everywhere we turn, there are huge problems and difficult choices. The situation in Afghanistan is unlike anything we have seen before. Oxfam has called for sufficient food to reach both government and opposition held areas before the onset of winter. Trucking seems to be the best option. Borders must be opened immediately. Refugee camps must be screened to ensure they remain civilian, secure and adequately provisioned. Attention must be given to the special needs of women".
Justice calls for rooting out the terrorists and bringing them to courts of law. Humanity calls for compassion and pleads for urgent humanitarian aid. The coalition has the capacity to make that happen and must not fail.
My Lords, we are fortunate in this House that we have those who have given great service to this country and who now serve here and who are themselves Muslims, three of whom have spoken in the past few minutes. I express our appreciation to my very dear noble friend Lord Ahmed and to my good noble friends Lady Uddin and Lord Bhatia for their contributions to our debate in which they made it absolutely plain that there is no difference at all between any of us, whatever our religions, faiths, beliefs or politics, as to the tragedies that have recently occurred.
Indeed, the leaders of the Muslim communities in this country have all expressed the same sentiments. It was a little tactless, even if it was to be expected, that a certain lady took another view publicly yesterday. It is wrong but we know that the press will always focus on those who make extremist demands, remarks and attacks because that is news, while the remarks of those who speak as our noble friends have done are not news because they are decent and that is to be expected.
I know the Muslim community in this country very well and am proud to be friends with so many of them. I know also that it is desperately wrong to stigmatise the Muslims of this country because of the extremist remarks and actions of a tiny marginalised minority whether or not they operate out of a mosque. We should be proud of the good community relations in this country. I say that not only as a parliamentarian who worked and served for many years in the city of Leicester where we have a substantial minority of Asians. Indeed, it is estimated that by 2010 it will be the first city in the country with an Asian majority. I also serve as a leader of the Jewish community and as a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress. I identify with the victims of the current attacks on the Muslim community. I condemn the attacks not only from a sense of morality but also because I recognise that Jewish people have too often been submitted to precisely the same attacks when they have been blamed for certain events.
I also recognise that if the far right does well and becomes--as it has done in some parts of the country--not marginalised but regarded as mainstream and if the British National Party or other nazi or fascist parties gain strength because of attacks on the Muslims today, it will be the turn of the Jews tomorrow. As Pastor Niemoller told us, next it will be the Catholics, the democrats or the decent, civilised way in which we govern our country. I point that out plainly to my Jewish community which has much in common with the Muslims here. The Muslims may say, "Oh well, at least some of the flak is being directed towards the Jews, the Israelis and the Jewish state. If it is them, it will take some of the heat off us". I say: do not believe that for a moment. If those people attack the Jews, then you will be next.
I say to my Jewish community that I am pleased that none of them has said, "Thank God it's the Muslims being attacked and not us". To the best of my knowledge, no one in any position of authority or, indeed, anyone I have met has taken that view. That is because we have learned that any attack on a minority is an attack on all minorities. In our community and happily in the Muslim community, we have a leadership that is central and understands what is going on--leadership that knows that, in the case of Muslims and Jews, the great Abrahamic faiths which come from the same origins, must work and live together. If we do not live together then we shall die together. I believe that that approach is vital. Far from following the view expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, I congratulate the large number of Muslim leaders, both lay and cleric, who have spoken out. Most of them have not been reported because it is not news.
The spillover from this event and from the Middle East is one that is very dangerous for our communities and our society in this country. I take exception that, so soon after Israel's Prime Minister Barak offered to the Palestinians so much--97 per cent of the land which originally they did not want to occupy and which they would be pleased to leave if they could reach an agreement--it was refused. But whatever our views on the Middle East, they must not be allowed to spill over into ill will in this country. As I said to my son when he joined the Conservative Party, it is a free country and everyone is entitled to be wrong.
In this House people are entitled to be wrong, to disagree and to argue. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and I debated against each other in the United States when we were somewhat younger than we are today. We were both recent graduates from Cambridge. We have been friends ever since. We may disagree, but we are friends. That reflects the decency of this land and this civilisation. Wherever I travel, I come back here and say, "Oh, I am so pleased to be back".
That has particularly been the case recently. I attended the so-called United Nations conference against racism in Durban, which turned into a racist conference. I have never seen anything like it. I was on the street when around 10,000--alas--Muslims paraded and passed out literature the like of which I have not seen since the days of Hitler. Indeed, one paper portrays a picture of Hitler and states, "What if I had won? The good thing is that there would be no Israel and no Palestinian blood shed. The rest is your guess". In other words, no Jews would be left in the world. We have to be so careful. They recognise this in South Africa and it is extremely serious. We have not witnessed such events here, but we must beware.
In my view, it is for the Jewish community to ensure that it does not attack the Muslim community or Muslim people, and it is for Muslims to ensure that they do not attack the Jewish community or Jewish people. It is for us, within our own communities, to try to promote understanding, friendship and the recognition of differences between us, as well as the right to be different. It is not for others to do so. Not long ago I recall that a black anti-Semitic leader was due to come to this country from the United States. No, it was not Farakhan. However much I may deplore the decision in the Farakhan case, this man was able to come over. I met a black leader who is still well known. He asked me what I wanted him to do about the man. I said, "That is for you to decide. If it is a Jew who is a racist, that is a problem for me and I shall deal with it. But if it is an Afro-Caribbean or black man who is a racist, as is the case here, it is for you to deal with it through your community". I am pleased that he did so. The unwanted visitor got as far as Liverpool where he addressed a small meeting. His London meetings were cancelled and he went home. I believe that it is for each community to deal with its own people and to ensure that racist material redolent of Hitler is not published. Community leaders should remember that if evil practices are allowed to start, they tend to grow. Once such a movement has begun, it can be very difficult to stop.
My other recent visit took place two weeks ago to Latvia and Lithuania where all my family who did not escape, principally to the United Kingdom, are in the mass graves. Those graves are set off the roads. The victims were marched into the woods where the Nazis and their local associates dug a pit. The people were shot and then buried. The locals hoped that everyone would forget about those victims. They are not doing too badly because most of the mass graves--there are 220 of them in Lithuania--cannot be found without a guide. I am pleased to tell the House that the presidents of both Latvia and Lithuania agreed to my request that they would be patrons of a project to signpost those graves from the road. That project is now under way.
I recall standing by one of the mass graves. I was told that 17,500 people had been buried there. I thought of the 7,000 or so people murdered in the New York tragedy. The newspaper headlines stated that the world has changed. When 17,500 people were murdered and put into one mass grave, no one took the slightest notice of it and nothing changed. Some good might come from this latest misery because when fewer have been murdered than in the Baltics, we recognise that, if the world has not changed, then we must work very hard together--Muslims, Jews and everyone else--to change it for the better.
My Lords, before I commence my remarks I should declare two interests. First, I am the head of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, which works in the Middle East for the relief of leprosy and other evils. Secondly, I am an independent, non-executive director of Sky. I am chairman of the compliance committee which seeks to ensure that the company is conducted in line with the appropriate laws and regulations.
Today's debate is a further fulfilment of Parliament's duty to express the mind of the nation. It expresses it today on one of the most dangerous challenges that we have faced since the dark days of 1940. The last three speeches from the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, the noble Lord, Lord Bhatia, and my old friend the noble Lord, Lord Janner, demonstrate the valuable work done in such a debate and what this institution is capable of achieving. I have been debating with the noble Lord, Lord Janner, over a period of 50 years. We have never entirely agreed, but I welcome the sincerity and concern with which he has spoken. In particular he mentioned the United Nations conference on racism. How I wish that, instead of wasting its time on such an inflated concept, the UN had held a conference on refugees and thus sought to introduce joint action throughout the world on agreed principles in order to meet the needs of this tragic situation.
We have heard many well-informed speeches full of insight. I do not intend to repeat them or attempt to compete with them. I want to make a few remarks on the ethical principles which may help to guide us through the present perplexities. Clearly this will be a long and complex struggle. The most important thing that will help us will be if we sustain our moral position and that of the grand alliance and keep that happy conjunction working together. That will not be done by what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London stigmatised as "secular materialism"; rather, it will be done by drawing on the riches of our Western tradition.
Personally, I speak out of a tradition which over the centuries, while not the only contribution, has been a vitally important one to the moral consensus. I speak, of course, of Catholic Christianity. Pacifism is an honoured tributary of that tradition but it has never been the mainstream. International war or conflict has been recognised as a material evil--a breakdown of the efforts of poor, struggling humanity to solve disputes by reason and by compromise rather than by force.
But instead of condemning the use of force as intrinsically evil, Christianity has attempted something rather different: to subject it to moral rules; to limit it; and to control the barbarous feelings and impulses that unavoidably it releases. If we give way to those, the values that we seek to defend will inevitably be destroyed.
I do not want to enter into a semantic debate with the noble Earl, Lord Russell, as to whether or not we are in a state of war. However, I believe that the concept of the just war--the intellectual concept used by theologians over the centuries as a tool for achieving this limitation--is important to us in the present situation. The purpose of that concept is to keep the worst barbarities at bay. That tradition goes back centuries--far beyond the 13th century of Thomas Aquinas. It goes back to Augustine in the 4th and 5th centuries and is all the more compelling because it came from a man who was so resolutely opposed to capital punishment and who lived in such violent times.
The essence of a just war is that its purpose is not vengeance. It is not a lust for power but is the punishment of evil and the advancement of good. No civilised person can believe that the acts perpetrated against the United States three weeks ago were anything other than evil. It is perfectly appropriate to react to them with a sense of righteous anger.
Of course, we know that violent acts are rooted in a rancid soil of wrong-doing and injustice, especially in the Middle East and in the shameful gulf that lies between the rich nations and the poor. But that of course does not vindicate them. We must understand the conditions that produce such acts, not to justify them but to help to ensure that they do not happen again. That is why a military response alone is so inadequate, although we do not rule it out altogether. All credit, then, to President Bush, who so far has got matters right. We must do the same here. The Prime Minister has been rightly praised in the debate today for having a charism for finding the right words to express worthily the response to a great historical challenge. But I would add an addendum to that: if your Lordships love Tony, they must love Clare as well.
Our task, then, is to punish those guilty of atrocities. The direct perpetrators of them are beyond the reach of human justice. But those who aided and abetted them are not, and countries or regimes which give them comfort or refuge are equally guilty. We can find echoes of that in the cadences of the common law: all people are held responsible for the natural consequences of their acts. That is why, having read the evidence that has been published today, I have concluded that the Taliban deserve to be rooted out, but not, of course, to the accompaniment of indiscriminate bombing and the slaying of innocent citizens who are in no way responsible for the bloody acts which have been committed by their rulers. Fortunately, modern technology, like Janus, has two faces: one increases the destructive power but the other enables it to be pinpointed and controlled.
At home also we must be diligent. I have nothing but contempt and express nothing but condemnation for those who would take revenge on the innocent followers of Islam. But we should not tolerate here those who incite others anywhere in the world to commit terrorist acts. As The Times pointed out last Saturday in a very persuasive leading article, we have ample powers under the Terrorism Act of last year to punish such people and those powers should be used.
I hope that all our great national institutions will rise, as Parliament has done, to the demands of the situation. I have one particular institution in mind--the BBC. The BBC's duty is to be as objective as possible in its reporting. But impartiality does not mean putting the United States and its President on the same level as bin Laden and his terrorists. That would be outrageous.
Perhaps I may ask a question which no one else seems to dare to ask. Why are some, but not all, of our BBC commentators so intemperate and so bellicose? Have they never heard of security considerations, especially concerning our own forces? Do they have to resort to aggressiveness, bullying, rudeness, interruption and the demand for simple answers to complex questions? Sometimes the abrasiveness is even reflected in the sneer in the tone of voice. The tone of public discussion is almost as important as its content. The recollections that I have of some interviews that I have heard on "The World Tonight" make me shudder, and those on "Newsnight" make me shiver. We have been through all this before. We went through it in the Falklands War and in the Gulf War. Let us not go through it a third time.
I conclude on a more irenic note. At its best, the BBC still gives the finest media service in the world. Its World Service is a national treasure of incalculable value. I hope that we can renew and strengthen that tradition in all parts of broadcasting in the testing weeks and months that lie ahead.
My Lords, I had prepared a speech but most of what I was going to say has already been said--and said very well. However, I have one point to put to the Government, which I hope they will clear up.
There is no questioning the fact that the Government are doing well in this tremendous crisis. However, we have to look at the reasons for the previous lack of action. I have in my hand a copy of Hansard from 12th December 1991. In that debate Lord Cheshire was very concerned about terrorism. He said:
"For instance, they may be used by a suicide group on a civilian airliner".--[Official Report, 12/12/91; col. 869.]
That warning was also given by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, during the same debate 10 years ago. What happened to our intelligence services? This appalling mass murder was planned, one must say, brilliantly and it was carried out, from training, selection, motivation and co-ordination, with good weather. That operation took an immense amount of preparation. I ask the Government whether the fault was that Ministers did not listen to the Security Service or that the Security Service did not have the information to give to Ministers. I know that that involves going back and that we should look to the future but the matter is extremely important. I want the Government to consider my question and to answer in this debate so far as they can.
We can see from films of cheering crowds that the great success of this appalling operation must have had a very stimulating--I wonder whether that is the right word--effect on young candidates for suicide missions. One reason why it is necessary for the Taliban and bin Laden to be defeated and brought to justice soon is that that will at least show the young fanatical people who fall for that sort of thing that they cannot get away with it. That is my main question for the Government.
Another matter that has disturbed me greatly is Israel's behaviour. We saw what triggered the present round. The fact is that the normal method of controlling crowds and rioters involves the use of gas and rubber bullets, not marksmen killing rioters, who are probably young people throwing stones. The toughness that is beginning to be shown by America and ourselves is absolutely necessary if we are to get the right sort of settlement in the Middle East, although that will not be easy. I hope that that policy of toughness with Israel--forcing them to face the facts--will be continued by the Government.
I do not have anything more useful to say. Having spoken for four minutes I shall sit down with the hope that my two practical points will be answered.
My Lords, the restraint shown by President Bush has already been commended. He showed restraint in the face of tremendous pressure to act swiftly after 11th September. What has not been said is that it is very largely due to the influence of our own Government and the new coalition against terrorism. We badly need statesmanship of that quality.
On Tuesday, Tony Blair showed that he had the necessary skills to forge a new bond not only between Europe and the United States but also between the Atlantic alliance and the rest of the world. I was disappointed that he had little to say about the Middle East. In view of his visit, perhaps he is leaving that for later. However, his Weltanschauung and his commitment to humanitarian action in Afghanistan and elsewhere--if that can really be achieved alongside a military campaign--was genuine and impressive. If anti-terrorism implies a renewed campaign against poverty and the conditions in which terrorism thrives, the whole world should be behind it.
Earlier this summer, when a handful of us debated Pakistan in this Chamber, I discussed the issue of refugees from Afghanistan. I said that 170,000 people had fled the effects of war and drought, on top of the 1.2 million already in Pakistan, the 1.3 million in Iran and the tens of thousands scattered in at least 68 countries, including ours. Afghans are now the single largest group of refugees in the world.
Since the events of 11th September the UN is appealing for help for nearly 10 times the number of new arrivals--up to 1.5 million people, in addition to the 7.5 million people who are in need inside the country. Just as the scale of the New York attack stupefied us, so will the extent of the human disaster in Afghanistan as it unfolds.
The aid agencies say that there are only a few weeks left if enough supplies are to be in place in time to avoid a human catastrophe. That was emphasised in the Statement and by my noble friend Lord Bhatia. We have heard that trucks have managed to reach Kabul, and that others are leaving for Herat. However, according to the World Food Programme, 1,000 tonnes will be needed every day to create a sufficient stockpile of 56,000 tonnes before mid-November.
Who can say whether the food will reach the people? There is a very real risk that thousands of families will die of starvation, especially around Herat and the northern regions that are controlled by the Northern Alliance, if renewed conflict and lack of security get in the way of distribution. That has happened in so many countries so many times previously. For that reason, although they will not say so, the aid agencies take a very dim view of any United States or UK-led strike on Afghanistan on the Iraq model. Any NATO attack on government buildings, public highways and infrastructure might help to drive the Taliban out but it would be unlikely to restore peace, stabilise the country or meet the people's needs without a massive occupying force. That force would need to be larger than even the Liberal Democrats can conceive of. The approach would involve a Marshall Plan that would absorb all the peace-keeping resources that are available to the UN. It is pie in the sky to think that we could get to that point.
Of course we must all hope for stability in the future but, as noble Lords have said, it must primarily be for the Afghan people to decide--if they are ever given the chance. The immediate concern among aid workers is the condition of the poorest families. According to Oxfam, Afghanistan is already the poorest country in Asia. Three in four Afghans have no safe water or access to the most basic healthcare. As many as 800,000 people have been displaced during the past year alone. Not all of them were from areas under Taliban control. Many NGOs are now moving staff to areas bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
In a few days, the British public will again be asked for money for Afghanistan. But do we care? Dare we admit that, despite our protestations about common humanity, 6,000 people in Afghanistan or Lithuania mean a lot less to us than the same number of lives, including our kith and kin, in Manhattan? Does that matter? Yes, it matters, because the appalling suicide attack is more about perception than reality. It is about how we in the West, and especially in the US and the UK, see others, and how they see us. We in the West occupy the economic and, we believe, the moral high ground. The first is incontestable; the second is now critically in question. From now on, we shall have to reassess our moral position, whether we are living in the mid-west, in Europe or somewhere closer to the centre of the planet.
We constantly cry justice and freedom, but we in our mainly Christian--though increasingly plural--Western society can have no monopoly of those virtues or aspirations. I use the word "we" because we more than any other state share the values and heritage of the United States. However, it may even be time for us to rethink the concept of belonging to the West. I should like to think of us primarily as Europeans. I applaud the Prime Minister's attempt to enlarge the international coalition, but it must not be a convenient strategic coalition, such as we have seen before, but one that will enjoy the full support of the rest of the world, especially the Arab nations.
Globalisation has not solved the problem of perception. Advanced technology allows us to look into the backyard of an Afghan refugee for our entertainment, or even to give charity to help him and his family; but it also brings home to us the huge contrast in lifestyles and cultural values across the world, and can do little on its own to bridge the divide. Only our collective effort based on our individual experience as human beings will do that.
In international relations, we are having to get used to rapid sound-bite responses and the sudden refocusing of our lives by political leaders, fed to us by the media. What was important yesterday does not seem as important tomorrow. We pass through cycles of instant concern for victims past, present and future. We find it harder today to make eternal judgments based on the old values, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or any other law or code of practice.
Having worked with several aid agencies now working in Afghanistan, I have seen some of their current responses and I know what they are going through. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, has already rightly commended them. Humanitarian agencies do not easily pass judgment on the actions of terrorists and politicians, but they feel strongly impelled to represent the feelings of the people whom they serve. They cannot but take the side of those innocent people who have wandered from place to place in that forlorn country in search of ordinary lives. They resent the innuendoes of some western politicians that they should be indirectly blamed for terrorism because of the country that they live in.
The noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, has already mentioned the complicated ethnic divisions in Afghanistan. If ordinary Afghan Pushtuns support the Taliban, as many of them do, they can reasonably argue that many of their leaders were trained with United States support and are now being shot in the back. They are bound to resist any attack, and there can be no excuse for NATO to target innocent civilians--however close they live to the terrorists.
The same aid agencies, while not in any way denying the need for justice for victims of terrorism, ask why such punishment should extend to the targeting of infrastructure and communications, which will make innocent people more miserable and future aid an impossible nightmare. As the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, knows better than any of us, they recall the painstaking clearance of mines all over Afghanistan during many years and the painful process of rehabilitation and recovery from civil war in a country which may now be invaded again and left in ruins.
We must make certain in this unprecedented state of virtual war that justice is done on all sides, and that--as many noble Lords have said--there is a proper proportion between one act of aggression and another. At the same time, we must derive the maximum advantage from the new coalition against terrorism, to ensure that a lasting peace in the region and greater understanding in both West and East will eventually follow.
My Lords, I see that my name is just under two-thirds of the way through a long list of speakers, so I shall be brief.
I should like to express appreciation for the extent to which the Government, and, indeed, the Government of the United States, have gone out of their way to try to ensure that this campaign against terrorism--like Michael Howard, I prefer to avoid the use of the word "war", and especially of "crusade"--is not turned into a war against Islam. I hope that we shall not relax our efforts, both at home and abroad, towards that aim.
My noble friend Lady Richardson referred to the need to redefine Islamic fundamentalism. I hope that I may be allowed to tell the House a brief anecdote. Some 16 years ago, when I was Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, I accompanied a senior British Minister to call on the then and present Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al Faisal. I was somewhat electrified to hear the British Minister ask Prince Saud, "Tell me, Minister, do you have much trouble with Islamic fundamentalists?". Prince Saud drew himself up to his full 6 feet and said, "Minister, I have to tell you that we, the Saudi Government, are Islamic fundamentalists". It is perhaps worth remembering that.
There has been discussion about an apparent--I think that it is only apparent--contradiction between what the Prime Minister said two days ago, namely that the Taliban should either hand over Osama bin Laden or hand over power, and what the Foreign Secretary has been quoted as saying, namely that it is not the Government's aim to unseat the Taliban. I do not believe there to be a real contradiction between those two statements.
Whatever the facts, I most earnestly caution against any attempt by ourselves or other outsiders to start forming alternative governments in Afghanistan. I fully share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, in his remarkable maiden speech, that we should not impose a regime on Afghanistan. There has been talk of helping the Northern Alliance to take over the reins of government in Kabul, and even of encouraging the ex-King, Zahir Shah, to leave Rome and resume his position as the constitutional monarch of Afghanistan. If events turn out that way, well and good, though I foresee many problems on the way. But the history of the past two centuries should provide us all, and perhaps most especially the Russians and ourselves, with sufficient warning against becoming too closely involved in or taking responsibility for the dangers and uncertainties--political, geographical, religious, ethnic and tribal--that afflict that unhappy country.
On the question of Palestine, to which several noble Lords have referred today, I am glad to see evidence that the present United States Administration are becoming more closely engaged in the Arab-Israel dispute since the events of 11th September. Until this week, their influence appears to have been mainly directed towards trying to arrange and maintain a cease-fire, with limited effect on both sides. However, during the past few days there have been welcome signs that President Bush himself is now anxious and ready to move the peace process forward.
This is not the moment to go more deeply into the issues behind the continuing Palestinian-Israeli disturbances, which are still, tragically, producing daily casualties on both sides, but the time has come--indeed, it is long overdue--when all sides, in particular the United States Administration, should take balanced steps to tackle the deeper issues set out in Senator Mitchell's report. In this process, I hope that Her Majesty's Government and our European colleagues will be ready to play a similarly active and balanced role.
On a personal note, I am delighted to learn that the Secretary General of the United Nations has given special responsibility for humanitarian assistance to Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi. Not only has Ambassador Brahimi unrivalled understanding of the problems of Afghanistan, but he will also be known to several Members of your Lordships' House as a distinguished ambassador of Algeria in London in the 1970s. If, as the Minister said, we regard ourselves as the vanguard of those giving humanitarian aid to the region, I have no doubt that we will find Ambassador Brahimi a most helpful and co-operative colleague.
Finally, I fully endorse the plea of my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig of Radley that there should be no reduction in the resources made available to the Armed Forces in waging this campaign against international terrorism. Perhaps I can echo his remarks in respect of the Diplomatic Service. The point has already been made today that the campaign will need to be waged on all fronts--military, intelligence and diplomatic. The last is particularly relevant to what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, called a "cornerstone" to the need for informed analysis and debate, to which the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, referred also. It is clearly vital that adequate resources should be made available to all three services to enable them to contribute effectively to what the Leader of the House admitted will be a long and difficult haul.
My Lords, I do not believe I have ever listened to a debate in which there has been a greater degree of unanimity of view, not only over the tragic events, but also over the manner in which it should be approached. We should like to bring to this tragic mess something of the order in which we like to believe that we ourselves live.
The International Peace Bureau, which works from Geneva in Switzerland and was at one time the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, states:
"Many believe this appalling tragedy should mark the opening of a new era. We believe that the US Administration and Congress must face the stark reality that nuclear weapons and missile 'defence' systems offer no security for anybody in this new context. We urge the immediate review of defence policies in order to move rapidly toward a human-security approach and a different set of spending priorities. Everyone needs time to reflect on these terrible events and to find new ways to resolve them. This must involve a new and more equitable partnership between the United States and the rest of the world. Humility and social justice will make a surer path to improved security than the 'quick fix' of military force".
I am sure that most, if not all of us, agree with that. The organisation continues,
"We must not allow the atmosphere to be filled with the air of revenge, retaliation, nationalism and war . . . This is a crisis that cries out for new thinking. If it was, indeed, an 'attack on human civilization', then the United Nations is the correct institution through which to organise the response".
Many of us will feel that that is an important view. The organisation concludes with a quotation from Martin Luther King, who apparently said,
"An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind".
I had intended to say something about my experiences in World War II--I was in the Royal Air Force and spent some time in the Far East--and its relevance to the present situation. However, as this has been a long debate, that point can be raised on another occasion. Instead I close with another indication of the unanimity of view which exists, which is probably the most promising aspect of the events which face us.
I hold a photocopy of an extract from the Daily Telegraph, in which it gives space to a letter which reads as follows:
"An American military response to the horrific crimes committed against their innocent citizens will almost inevitably mean more innocent civilian deaths elsewhere. There are two entirely practical anti-terrorist steps which could be taken now.
The first is for the American government to give up its opposition to the establishment of a World Criminal Court with international and general jurisdiction. The second is for the American government to fulfil its own legal obligations (International Court of Justice ruling 1996) and begin to negotiate the abolition of that supreme instrument of terror, the nuclear weapon. A draft abolition treaty already exists.
The United States could still lead the world towards a future in which security is based on law and justice rather than on further military threat".
That letter is signed by Bruce Kent, vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. We can be more cheerful. A situation in which the Daily Telegraph features such a letter is one which gives rise to minor rejoicing.
My Lords, I should have thought that the freedom of expression that allows the Daily Telegraph to publish a letter that disagrees so profoundly with its own line is precisely the kind of thing that we are trying to defend. I hope that the newspaper will not be criticised in any way for that.
At the outset of the debate, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, referred to the almost universal Muslim condemnation of what happened on 11th September. We have heard many echoes of that during the debate, not least from the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin. I was dismayed to read in The Times this morning that there are prominent people who seem to doubt that. Those who argue that we have not heard enough from Muslim clerics are inaccurate, unfair and profoundly unwise. They are inaccurate because it simply is not true. Anybody who had been following the events in the press over the past three weeks would know that. It is unfair because in many cases the clerics have faced pressure from their own opposition, as we have seen from the cheering crowds on certain television programmes, and they have stood their ground and stood up to be counted. It is profoundly unwise because at a time, as we have heard again in the debate, when the Muslim population in this country is facing serious risk of personal attacks, when mosques are being torched and when people are being assaulted in the streets, to lend any credence at all to the view that the majority of Muslims in this country are somehow prepared to tolerate what happened in New York is nothing short of outrageous. I hope that the word will go out from this House that that sort of thing is not to be tolerated.
I have only one point to make. A number of speakers have referred to the attitude of the Muslim community in this country to what I call, perhaps illogically, the undistributed middle. We have all rightly condemned the terrorists--those who committed the offence are now beyond our jurisdiction--and those who support, aid, abet and finance them. We have all recognised that the vast majority of the Muslim communities in the world, including British Muslims, condemn the terrorists equally strongly. However, there is an undistributed middle--those who somehow manage to stand between the two groups.
I recently had a conversation with a Muslim who has lived here for nearly 25 years. He holds a senior professional position and is a thoroughly respectable and trustworthy man. He asked me to spend a few minutes with him, as he wanted me to understand his point of view. It concerns the use of the word "fundamentalist". I was interested to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, and others on the subject.
My friend started by asking me why successive British Governments had allowed people whom he described as Islamic extremists to live in this country and continue to preach their messages of hate. I explained the state of the law. We believe in free speech, we are reluctant to prosecute people for what they say as opposed to what they do, however unpalatable it may be, and, of course, we are particularly careful not to discriminate against ethnic or religious minorities.
My friend said that that was all very well, but the people he was talking about do not care for any of these things. They believe that for those who do not support their wish for their kind of Islamic religion to sweep the world, anything goes. They do not hesitate to call for the deaths of their enemies, even other Muslims. They seek to indoctrinate the young with their extremism and their followers are prepared to go to any lengths to compel adherents to their cause.
I said that that was a bit unreasonable. After all, there are fundamentalists in every religion, including in the Christian religion in this country. My friend said, "Patrick, that is all very well, but fundamentalist Islam is a rather different kind of animal."
This may be a matter of semantics. Perhaps we have to think this through and take advice from people who understand the issue a great deal better than I do. My friend's point is that the undistributed middle is here. They are a tiny minority, but they are present in this country and are apparently free to go on preaching in their mosques and schools that it is right to kill their enemies. My friend went on to ask whether we realised that the presence of such people here is a source of acute embarrassment to the majority of the Muslim community.
I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, say precisely the same thing two or three hours ago. I have discussed the issue with him since then outside the Chamber. I asked why we cannot persuade the authorities to get on and deal with the issue. If somebody is committing the offence of incitement to murder, why are they not hauled before the courts? Perhaps they are going to be. I saw an article in The Times on Tuesday headed, "Scotland Yard investigates North London militant". His name has been mentioned several times--Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad. The other name mentioned in the article is Abu Hamza al-Masri. They have been consistently seen as supporters of terrorism. They made no secret of their joy at what happened in New York. I find that deeply offensive. I accept that the Government do not prosecute; the police do that. However, I would like to know from the Government whether the authorities now intend to crack down on such support for terrorism. We do not need to put up with it in this country. I very much hope that I shall be able to tell my friend that I raised his point in the House of Lords and got a rather encouraging answer.
My Lords, those of your Lordships who know my range of interests may have been surprised to see my name on the speakers' list for a debate on foreign affairs. I would not normally presume to add my name to those of your Lordships who are much more knowledgeable than I am on such matters. I shall precede my main remarks by explaining how it has come about. It is because I was in Washington during the attack on America and I have some information that I would like to share.
On 9th September I flew to Washington with members of the All-Party British America Parliamentary Group. The purpose of our delegation was to study American government at all levels, from the federal right down to the very local. I was the only Member of your Lordships' House in the delegation, along with seven Members of another place.
We began our programme with a series of high quality briefings on Monday 10th. Our programme for 12th September was to begin with a briefing on the Bush administration's defence policy in the Pentagon. That briefing, of course, never took place. At 9 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday 11th, we walked into the Capitol building. As the two planes were hitting the World Trade Centre, we were obliviously enjoying a brief tour of that lovely symbol of American democracy before sitting down for our first briefing.
As the third plane hit the Pentagon, not far away, we stood in the heart of the Capitol building, in the old Senate Chamber--the cradle of modern American democracy. Suddenly, security staff ran in and yelled at us to leave the building and to run. Helped by our escorts from the state department, we left swiftly and hurried away from Capitol Hill, as instructed. As we did so, we saw the smoke rising from the Pentagon and picked up snippets of information from television crews as we moved as far away as possible from federal buildings. I pay tribute to the professionalism and humanity of Deborah Underhill and Paul Engelstadt, our state department escorts, for their care for our safety and wellbeing.
We took refuge in a bar ironically named "The Hawk and Dove". The full horror of the diabolical attack on the free world unfolded itself on the television screens to a hushed crowd. It soon became clear that a fourth hijacked plane had been aiming at the Capitol building where we had been and that we probably owed our lives to the brave passengers who attacked the hijackers and brought the plane down in Pennsylvania. I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude and those of my colleagues to those men and my sympathy to their grieving but proud families. The reason why I wish to speak in this debate is to make your Lordships aware of what I heard directly from American politicians and ordinary people in the immediate aftermath and the two weeks that followed, unfiltered by the media. I heard shock and anger. I heard outrage and puzzlement. "Who could hate us so much that they would do this and why?" were the questions on many lips. I heard hurt and grief, but I did not hear demands for revenge and retribution. I heard very few incautious words. Instead, I heard calls for reason and justice. I heard wisdom, moderation, tolerance and self-examination.
America was shaken to its very foundations, but the response of many to whom I spoke was to call for a measured and wise response; to look inside at America's own foreign policies and internal race relations. I heard calls for a end to American isolationism and for more aid to those who live their lives in poverty. I heard fears that those of the Muslim faith within American society might be victimised because of these terrible acts and loud calls for the whole of society to outlaw any such thing. That is why I was glad when my senior colleague suggested that I should stay and complete my programme rather than return to your Lordships' House for the emergency Sitting on 14th September.
From the inside position which it was my privilege to be given, it became clear to me that many wise people within Congress realised immediately the danger of a precipitate response. The internationalists among them quickly identified the need for the democratic world to stand together, and that the forthcoming battle would not be won by strength but by brains and team work. I was glad that I would be in a position to relay what I was hearing unfiltered by any demands from the media for what has been referred to in this debate as a firework display.
Many people thanked God for the influence of that leading moderate, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. General Powell is a soldier and as such he knows that there is very little either of certainty or of glory in war. Many I spoke to prayed that he would be listened to. One of those with whom I worked closely over those first few days, Congressman Jim McDermott, the representative from Seattle, used some very powerful imagery in his speech to Congress a few days later. Understanding the need for the President to be seen by his people to be strong, he asked,
"Which animal catches the most prey, the lion or the bull? The lion watches and waits. He is not asleep and he is not weak. He is strong but he watches and waits and when he pounces he does so accurately and effectively. That is what America and her allies should do".
Those are wise words.
The power and importance of our special relationship with the United States was demonstrated over the next two weeks by the warmth with which we were received. The American people were very moved by the powerful symbolism of Her Majesty the Queen ordering the playing of their national anthem at the Changing of the Guard. It occurred to me, as has been said by several noble Lords, that good things must come out of this evil. One of them must be that this country must realise what a unique role we can play in the world. If we can play an active and committed role at the heart of Europe, and if we can at the same time remain America's candid friend, we alone can form a powerful conduit between those two vast blocs of the developed world and help them to work together for peace, environmental protection and enlightened development. Only we can do that and I for one hope that we shall do it.
From what I heard in the United States I promise noble Lords that those who fear the pressure on President George Bush from those who want action and symbols of America's strength, can be assured that there is equal, if not greater pressure on him, from wise and moderate people at the heart of American politics for a proportionate response, a massive humanitarian initiative and greater efforts to help the people of Afghanistan who are also suffering under Osama bin Laden and his friends in the Taliban regime.
We have heard a great deal about solidarity, the solidarity between the coalition of states against international terrorism and the solidarity between those brave emergency workers in Washington and New York who worked so hard and who in some cases gave their lives to save others. We have heard a great deal about solidarity among people of faith--all faiths. Let there by no mistake. There are many commonalities between Christianity, Islam, Judaism and many other faiths. Osama bin Laden's version of his religious duty is a diabolical distortion of real Islam. I therefore very much welcome the announcement about legislation to protect religious freedom and to outlaw acts of violence against people because of their religious faith.
Religious freedom is one of the basics of my own political philosophy. Indeed, it is fundamental to the philosophy of my party. I firmly believe in the right of all people to practise their religion freely and to educate their children in its principles. I have within my own family Christians of several denominations as well as Muslims and Jews. I love and respect all of them. All of us have sent our children to non-sectarian schools. In Northern Ireland the workers for peace are sending their children to integrated schools, the better to understand each other and to promote peace in that troubled community in the long term. In view of the events of the past few weeks, as well as the lessons learnt at such terrible cost in Northern Ireland over 30 years, I would ask the Government seriously to reconsider whether it is right to encourage more faith schools in their forthcoming Education Bill. I personally do not believe that it is.
We face a number of battles at the moment: the battle for accurate information, the battle to devise and carry out an appropriate military response. But one of the most important battles we face, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester and others have said today, is the battle for hearts and minds and for understanding between peoples of different cultures and religions. In such a situation surely our children must grow up together, learn together and play together.
This has been a wonderful debate full of wisdom and insight. I apologise to later speakers and in particular the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bach, that I may be forced to miss their contributions because of a pressing engagement. I miscalculated the length of this debate and in the unusual circumstances I hope that I shall be forgiven. I shall read their comments in Hansard with interest.
Finally, perhaps I may urge any noble Lords who have their own special relationships with friends and relatives in the United States, to give them support through correspondence or in any other way that noble Lords can. Most of the citizens of the United States of America are thoughtful, tolerant and democratic people who share our values. The Prime Minister has been a trusted and candid friend to them so far on our behalf. I pray that he will continue to do so.
My Lords, perhaps I should preface my contribution by saying that I have had experience in the past three years of dealing with young asylum seekers, some of whom are refugees from Afghanistan. I recently visited Angola with UNICEF. The theme of my remarks will be engagement with the developing world. Towards the conclusion of his speech on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said:
"This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder the world around us".
Are those words grandiose and unrealistic, or is this an opportunity that should be seized to improve the conditions of those in the third world and to make the whole world a safer place for us all?
In the previous debate on this matter, the noble Lords, Lord Naseby, Lord Elton and Lord Grenfell, emphasised the need to address the imbalances between the developed and the developing world if we are to choke the supply of terrorists in the future. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, made that point earlier. The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, made an interesting contribution, which challenged that proposition. I have yet to consider his thoughtful words, but I shall give my first response now.
He seemed to be saying that terrorism and fanaticism are bred in the bone, and that in Northern Ireland, for instance, one cannot shake the faith and ideology of fanatics on both sides. He said that prosperity had little impact. The noble Lord seemed to be saying that we need a very long-term plan to address the problem. I agree with that and wonder whether the problems in Northern Ireland stem from the long-term oppression of Catholics and the feelings of Protestant insecurity over many generations. If that is the case, perhaps that lends weight to the arguments of other noble Lords that oppression in the developing world, that gross iniquity, may not be the way in which to address the immediate terrorist problem, but it may be how to address fanaticism in generations to come, to avoid breeding it in the future.
I shall give a specific example of how one might attempt to make a difference in the developing world. In Angola three out of 10 children die before the age of five. More than 50 per cent of children are stunted in their growth. They are less than 70 per cent of normal size. These figures come from UNICEF. The consequence is that there are children who are constantly crying and begging for attention. They are angry and unhappy because they are underfed. Other children are listless and bloated. They have reached the point of starvation when the cells cease to function properly. Such children have to be fed 12 times a day with a special milk formulation because the body can no longer cope with normal feeding. These children's arms are the thickness of doweling sticks.
At a recent conference at Chatham House in London, sponsored by the British Angolan Forum, a couple of Ministers from Angola and the governor of the national bank were present for the two days to discuss western policy on Angola. A young man from Mozambique, who works for an NGO, spoke to me towards the end of the conference. He said, "It is such a pity that here are two Ministers and a governor of the national bank from Angola, spending two days in London, but there is no Minister from the UK or Europe".
It must seem that we are not listening. The organiser of the conference said that he had written to members of the governments in Europe and the UK asking for their attendance, but without success. We need to engage in these issues.
Ambassador Paul Hare was present at the meeting. He described the engagement of the United States in recent years. Previous Administrations set up a bilateral committee, involving US officials, national Government of Angola officials and business people from America. One fruitful outcome was a grant supporting the prevention of the spread of HIV in Angola. President Bush was due to meet President dos Santos of Angola in Washington last month, but the meeting was cancelled for obvious reasons. President Bush is a Republican, who previously sponsored UNITA, the opposition party. The roots of the party of President dos Santos are Marxist, so there has been a journey--a useful one.
I return to the Prime Minister's words. Are they realistic? What can be done? I was in Paris on Tuesday evening and stood in front of the great Notre Dame cathedral. I was very moved by the sight of it in the spotlights against the dark blue night sky. I thought what an achievement it was for Bishop de Sully and the people of France in the 12th century. They had come together to create this immense and beautiful edifice that still inspires today. I remember JFK deciding that man should go to the moon. One of the most exciting times of my youth was the sight on television of the Apollo mission taking off and a man stepping on to the moon.
This Prime Minister has brought a party that was deemed unelectable by some through to a second term. Perhaps there can be hope if one plans for long-term engagement and adopts the principle of diplomacy that Ambassador Hare outlined, which must be on a personal level. We need to develop trust between individuals. Perhaps there is hope that we can engage more effectively with the developing world on many levels, through business, diplomacy and the NGOs, to remedy the problems that I described earlier. It is also in our interests not to create a generation of terrorists for the future.
My Lords, just about all that can be said about the terrible events of 11th September in New York and Washington has been said. Much of it has been well said, both in the debate in this House three days later and again today. Mere words will not, however, bring the perpetrators of those crimes to book. Nor will they protect us, or our friends and allies, or indeed the whole international community, against a repetition of them. As the scale and outreach of the terrorist networks that underpinned the onslaught become more discernible, we can see the enormity of the task that faces us. It is surely time to focus on some key elements of the campaign that lies ahead.
I want to begin with a plea--and I understand that in doing so I shall put myself in a position different from many who have spoken--that we stop spending quite so much time debating whether or not what we are engaged in is or is not properly speaking a war. Much effort can be put into parsing that word but common sense tells us that a carefully planned series of attacks which kills in an hour as many people or more as would die in a moderate-sized modern battle is indeed an act of war and that any response has to treat it as such. Moreover, if we are to ask our fellow citizens to make sacrifices in bearing costs, in diminution of their liberties and perhaps in casualties to our Armed Forces, all of a nature which are normally justifiable only to wage war, we would do better to call a spade a spade.
However, this is not a war like any other in which this country has ever been involved; and some of the differences need to be understood if our response is to be as effective and as sustained as it will need to be if it is to succeed. A normal adage is that when war breaks out the diplomats and those who manage the economy play second fiddle until it is all over. Nothing could be further removed from the present situation. If this campaign against terrorism is to succeed, its political and financial dimensions will have to be pursued with as much vigour as its military ones. All three dimensions will need to move ahead in parallel and to be prosecuted in such a way that each supports the other. Indeed, it would not be surprising if in the long run the military dimension were less prominent than the other two.
A second difference is that in this war, unlike any other including the Cold War, there really is no such thing as a neutral or non-aligned state. To say that is not just a piece of rhetorical bravado; it is a statement of the obvious. So long as the terrorists can find safe havens, can transmit funds and can acquire weapons and documents they will not be defeated.
A third difference is that victory in this war will not be marked by some military triumph but rather by things that do not happen; by terrorist attacks which do not take place; and by the dislocation of these networks as much as by the bringing to justice of those who work in them.
In the past three weeks a massive coalition has been put together to combat terrorism. It is no mean achievement to have brought within its ambit countries as diverse as Russia and China, India and Pakistan. The solidarity of the five permanent members of the Security Council has been re-established for the first time since it ceased to exist shortly after the end of the Gulf War. Two resolutions of the Security Council have been adopted unanimously which, taken together with the United States' undoubted right to act in self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter, now provide a mandatory framework of international law for the campaign against terrorism. Maintaining this coalition will not be easy. Coalitions are, by definition, fragile and fractious. But it is a crucial objective not because it is an end in itself--it is not--but because without it the political and financial dimensions of the campaign will be so much less effective.
The United Nations' framework may not mean much to some commentators in Washington but it means an awful lot to most of the countries whose effective co-operation is essential to success. Now that this framework is in place it needs to be developed further, if possible through the negotiation, ratification and implementation of universal conventions striking at the roots of terrorism, and also by giving the United Nations the resources it requires to monitor and implement the obligations it has imposed on its members.
To move from the general to the very particular, I want to say something about Afghanistan. I should declare an interest as, unlike most Members of this House, I lived there for two years. But that was 40 years ago. Afghanistan finds itself in the eye of the gathering storm through no desire of the majority of its population who are in fact voting with their feet as they flee to the nearest frontier. Few countries' modern history has been more tragic and agonising; and that more due to the action of foreigners than to the failings of Afghans themselves. To read the commentaries of armchair generals and academic gurus, each lovingly describing the rate of the various misguided and mismanaged attempts, first by the British then by the Soviet Union, to dominate that country, the idea of taking any military action at all against Osama bin Laden and his supporters, the Taliban, is made to appear foolhardy in the extreme. But to take that view is not only a counsel of despair, faced as we are by so much evidence that the terrorist onslaught was indeed directed from there; it is also to allow historical analogies, which are almost never exact, to dominate our judgment.
Two factors doomed those earlier fiascos. The first was to attempt to prop up as rulers of Afghanistan unpopular factions whose dependence on external military support was their undoing in the eyes of most Afghans. The second was to attempt to hold down the country by military force which both the geography and the temperament of the Afghans made untenable. There is no reason to believe that anyone is likely to fall into either of those traps again.
But does that mean that we should simply in the longer term be indifferent as to who rules Afghanistan? That, roughly speaking, is the policy which has guided the international community since the Soviet Union withdrew from the country in 1989; and the least one can say is that it does not seem to have been a huge success. I suggest that there could be a way between the extremes of meddling and of indifference which could include four elements. First--and many noble Lords have addressed this point--there is need for a massive relief effort by the international community to help those Afghans suffering from the effects of drought and civil war both as refugees and, even more important, within the country.
Secondly, there should be a renewed attempt to encourage the Afghans themselves to put together a broad-based and representative government. By definition, that could be neither the Taliban, whose support comes almost exclusively from the Pashtuns and who lack any real consent from the Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities, nor the Northern Alliance, in its present form, which has the opposite defect. The United Nations could well have a role to play in brokering the formation of a government representative of all the main ethnic groups.
Here I slightly take issue and distance myself from the suggestion made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. I do not believe that something like a UN protectorate is at all wise. Afghanistan has the pride of being able to say that it was one of the only two countries in the world which were never colonised in the 19th century or dominated by an external power and I do not believe that it is about to start submitting to that now. Therefore, I believe that it would be better to think of the United Nations in the form of a broker. The initiative, effort and responsibility must be taken by Afghans themselves.
Thirdly, we should set out formally and publicly what the international community is prepared to do by way of aid and backing for any representative Afghan government which hands over those who have committed or are planning terrorist offences and which verifiably dismantles the whole structure of training camps supporting them. Our hesitation and reluctance to set out the positive side of the agenda in quite different cases in Iraq and Yugoslavia in my view severely weakened the impact of our other policies.
Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, once the other elements are achieved, we should aim to put in place a set of binding international legal obligations accepted by all of Afghanistan's neighbours against any further meddling in its affairs. That was eventually what was done far too late in the case of Cambodia. It could be that after so many bitter experiences a consensus might now be reached that meddling in Afghanistan has never paid, and never will pay, for any of its neighbours.
In conclusion, I should like to say a brief word about the role of the European Union so far in this crisis. A great deal of credit is due to the speed and unanimity of its action, whether it be in standing by the United States in its hour of trial, in helping to marshal the worldwide coalition against terrorism, in taking the first steps towards strengthening its own defences or in clamping down on the financing operation of the terrorist networks.
Europe's common foreign and security policy was always going to have to be beaten out on the anvil of events, not just enshrined in some communique or other. So far it has come through with flying colours. Yet again we have seen that when it comes to facing up to new threats and challenges it is action by the Union as a whole and not just action by one or other of its member states that provides the most viable and effective response.
My Lords, this has been a particularly impressive--of course--and sobering debate. However, I should like to add my appreciation of the way that the UK Government have approached the terrorist threat to world stability. Perhaps I may also say how well the Americans have responded, which has been so cautious and measured despite the fears that some may have had. We and they need strong alliances wherever we can find them.
The questions I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Bach to answer when he winds up the debate are about our relations with Iran and about the discussions, so far as they can be revealed, between the right honourable Foreign Secretary Mr Straw and the leadership in Iran.
Before I come to my specific questions, I want to spend a moment or two examining how such atrocious acts could have become possible and on the reasons why they may be the tip of rather large icebergs. I am afraid that I do not believe that these acts are simply the product of poverty and oppression in the Middle East, although, as we know, they certainly exist and may play a part. Of course we must do everything in our power to correct them. However, I doubt if they are the root cause of terrorism. Nor would I accept that it is the Israel/Palestinian conflict that is responsible, as some seem to hint. Although it may contribute to the matter, it is much more likely to be symbolic of the wider conflict with western democracies than its cause, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, explained so eloquently.
There is much more of its root cause in the cynical manipulation of large vulnerable populations, somewhat ignorant of the outside world, by malign leaders who ceaselessly pour out their anti-western propaganda. Furthermore, to the deep regret and disgust of clear-thinking Muslims they often do so in the name of Islam, which they debase with their brand of fundamentalism. The noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, spoke movingly on the subject.
There are clearly recognisable extremist terrorist organisations, of which bin Laden's is but one. Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad and Hamas--they are all on our list--are right up there with them with many others in a complex interrelated active network. They are all growing as they gain ready recruits from a propaganda-saturated population which forms the submerged base of this iceberg.
Much of it is driven up in places like Afghanistan, and, I am afraid, in Iran, in a very systematic way. That has not just started; it is a phenomenon which has been active for 20 years or more, and certainly, for example, during the whole of the time that the Middle Eastern peace negotiations were being pursued at Camp David and in Oslo.
Messages of hatred of the West and of Israel are constantly fed through school lessons and through the state-controlled media. Preachers extol the virtues of suicide to children as a way to Paradise. Perhaps I may quote some examples to your Lordships. On 30th August the official Palestinian authority daily newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadida said that we must,
"harm American interests . . . with all possible means in all places at all levels, because the United States does not understand the language of logic", and so on. On 11th September the same newspaper said:
"These suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history . . . they are the most honourable among us".
As an example of Palestinian television one could listen to the announcer who stated:
"Have no mercy on the Jews no matter where they are in any country. Wherever you meet them, kill them, wherever you are kill those Jews and those Americans".
These are all official organs of the state where there is no free press.
I have quoted from official Palestinian sources, but this type of background is a constant in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Is it any wonder then that we saw the spontaneous outbursts of joy and celebrations in the streets of Iran and the West Bank on 11th September? Of course the unfortunate journalists who recorded them were quickly bundled out of the country, but the celebrations were clearly a reflection of what the population had been taught was right from an early age.
It is depressing in the extreme to realise that whole generations have been borne into hatred, which will take decades of enormous effort to remedy. These hatreds may also help to explain why, for example, the offer by Prime Minister Barak of Israel to Mr Arafat at Camp David of the West Bank and of East Jerusalem to form the basis of his Palestinian state, with all the humanitarian and economic advantages that could then have started flowing for the unfortunate Palestinian people so long deprived of these basic needs, was turned down. That offer closely resembled what both Mr Bush and our own Prime Minister have hinted at recently--make no mistake, this was on the table--but it was turned down by Mr Arafat. What a tragically missed opportunity that was for the Palestinian people as well as for Israel and the rest of the world. The Palestinians at least deserve better.
But peace with Israel does not appear to be on the agenda for many other Middle East countries, including Iran, that wish completely to eliminate Israel from the map. Not just Afghanistan but a number of other countries, including Iran, promote, fund, train and arm terrorist groups on the West Bank and in Syrian-occupied Lebanon with the express purpose of destroying Israel. Little wonder that Israel feels, and is, a country under siege.
My questions are set against the background of state-sponsored propaganda against western democracy, of which Israel is only the local example. In fact, Israel is the only example of a democracy in the Middle East--its Parliament, the Knesset, includes Israeli Arabs. That propaganda, coupled with the cynical distortion of religious fundamentalism, leads to extreme terrorist activities.
Can my noble friend the Minister tell the House whether the Foreign Secretary raised with the Iranians the question of their promoting and arming terrorist organisations across the Middle East, including training camps in Iran? In particular, did the Foreign Secretary seek Iran's support in exerting pressure on Mr. Arafat to negotiate peace with Israel rather than its total destruction?
My noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours, in his remarkable and uncontroversial maiden speech, said that Israel must be taken by the scruff of the neck. Israel feels as though it has been taken by the scruff of the neck, as it is subjected to constant attack. I am of course fully supportive of the Government's efforts to help the parties in the Middle East to reach a peaceful resolution with justice for all. Israel wants nothing more seriously.
My Lords, I had hoped to contribute to the previous debate but felt that much of what was said on that occasion was much more eloquent and based on far greater knowledge than any speech of mine would have been. It was also possibly that was not the right moment to discuss the humanitarian side of the crisis. Now we have reached a time when that aspect, which is of utmost importance, can be debated.
Preparing for today's debate, I had a depressing experience. I took out my old files on Afghanistan, only to realise that I had talked about its problems since I arrived in your Lordships' House in 1994. Worse still, I had done so on not one occasion but many times. The political, security and military aspects have been discussed at length by several noble Lords, so I shall highlight three humanitarian points--some of them mentioned by the noble Earls, Lord Sandwich and Lord Listowel, and by the noble Lord, Lord Judd.
First, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, who has always been most helpful in every way. My questions concern the extended poverty caused by terrorist exploitation of anti-globalisation and the difficulties arising from different cultures.
As was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London in his eloquent speech, as far as we know the terrorists involved in the recent atrocious acts were well educated, not poor, and led normal lives. However, they were able to manipulate and indoctrinate thousands of people who were desperately poor and had little to live for. In this country, there is a new generation who mind a great deal about poverty and similar plights and genuinely want to help. Many charities, such as the International Red Cross, do fine work, but that aid is a drop in the ocean in relation to the immense problems. The future refugee problem will be gigantic--let alone the latest reports of the largest outbreak in history of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, similar to Ebola fever, among Afghan refugees crossing into Pakistan.
How can we help? Will the Government make certain that refugee camps meet international standards and that no one country will have to bear the disproportionate burden that would easily swamp and destabilise the area? Most importantly, in the longer term we should think about reconstructing the Afghan homeland so that refugees can return home safely.
The humanitarian side emanating from this disaster is more important than ever as it is difficult to fight either terrorists or dictatorships from a democratic country. In April this year, the Minister told us that we were providing assistance that benefits Afghan farmers who have lost their livelihoods for various reasons. Can the Minister tell the House whether that assistance, as well as the newly promised aid package, is continuing? How do we make certain that it is getting into the right hands? Aid agencies have made it clear that the impending catastrophe is of mass starvation because the crisis follows three years of drought and crop failure.
Of the 21 million Afghans still remaining, many will die this winter unless food aid programmes can be resumed before the winter closes in across the routes in mid-November. If any bombing should take place, it is vital that as much food aid as possible should be delivered beforehand.
What progress have the Government made in reopening the BBC office in Kabul? There are indications that over 60 per cent of Afghans listen regularly to the BBC. Since 1982 the BBC World Service has been broadcasting in Pashtu to millions of listeners. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord St John of Fawsley, in his support for the BBC World Service.
The figures that have come from the World Bank are frightening: 40,000 more children could die from the knock-on effect in those poor countries, even if the World Bank increases its lending by up to £542 million, because of the economic damage wrought by the terrorist attacks.
The anti-globalisation or the anti-capitalist voice has grown dramatically recently. Many of the anti-globalisation demonstrators who now plague international meetings should think twice before wrecking more cities. I am sure that many are well-meaning social activists who believe in the sanctity of human life, but other anti-globalisation activists, like the terrorists, have made clear it that they see the capitalist icons such as the New York Trade Centre and the World Trade Organisation in Geneva as symbols of oppressive American domination of the world economy.
The terrorists have achieved some of the anti-globalisation protesters' dearest objectives. Following the attacks on New York and Washington, the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington have been cancelled. The protestors who want to prevent the holding of those meetings seek to advance their political agenda through intimidation, which is the classic goal of the terrorist. Those meetings are of great importance for the developing world, especially with the slowing world economy and the risk of protectionism. The world trade round this year is said to be essential to restore economic growth and confidence.
In Claire Stirling's remarkable book written as long ago as 1981 when terrorism was rife, she said that the ultimate target of the international terrorist network was the western democracies and their supporters; the beneficiaries, the enemies of the West.
Finally, I turn to a sensitive point. When I asked the Minister in November 1997 how the Government would make certain that blatant abuses of human rights in Afghanistan, especially towards women, would be fully addressed, the answer was, "With great difficulty". The situation of women has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, in his forceful speech. Perhaps I should declare an interest at this stage as a patron of the Mother/Child Clinic in the Panjshir Valley.
Both Boris Johnson and Polly Toynbee have recently written that there are people who feel that their culture is under siege. They fear that American morals and values will take them over. Yet this is a world where women are lashed for adultery; all girls are denied an education; no women, even if they are doctors or teachers, are allowed to work; and women are denied elementary healthcare. We should not forget that 65 per cent of the Afghan are women and are virtually under house arrest.
It is difficult to reconcile two seemingly contradictory sides of this debate. Should religious and cultural self-determination take precedence over the promotion of women's education? Surely, female education is one of the main answers to the global population problem.
I should like to end with a thought from Charles de Gaulle:
"It is not tolerable, it is not possible, that from so much death, so much sacrifice and ruin, so much heroism, a greater and better humanity shall not emerge".
My Lords, the content of this second debate has differed markedly from the first. None the less, it is of great value to us all. On the previous occasion we were preoccupied by the extent of the horror and the timing and possible nature of retribution. In this debate we have changed course, turning instead to the state of opinion in this country, and particularly to the views of the minority communities here. We have heard some outstanding and valuable contributions on this particular topic.
But we have drawn, I suggest, no common conclusions about the essential matter of retribution. I may be wrong, but my impression is that while we admire the untiring efforts of the Prime Minister and his colleagues to win support for their coalition and for a common position with our friends around the world, particularly in the Middle East, it remains doubtful whether we can win their active support for military operations without disclosing the intelligence which we feel it our bounden duty to protect. If I am correct in drawing this conclusion, that leaves the British and American Governments in a very disagreeable dilemma.
Thus in this debate we have moved from the general nature of our reaction to the terrorist attack, which we debated before, and the broad principles involved in this, to the adjustment of our existing laws to the new international environment. I want to emphasise the importance of this task and its particular difficulty. The importance is clear enough: it is our capacity to turn into effective measures the fine words and commitments of principle which have been courageously made. The overriding problem for us British is that we are dealing with an area of maximum complexity--that is, the conjunction between the nature of our civil society and the inherited traditions of justice in public life in which we take pride on the one hand, and, on the other, our need to embody in this society the commitments made during this crisis, together with some important innovations in European law and some changes needed to remedy defects in existing bilateral and multilateral understandings which have been revealed.
As an example, let us take the tricky business of the extradition question. Recently, in March of this year, the Home Office published a paper explaining why some changes in our procedures were desirable. I am inclined to follow that approach. But I mention this matter in particular because I think it is one of the cases where the adjustment of our domestic laws can be examined with particular attention in this House, where we have much relevant knowledge and the capacity for careful and impartial analysis which could prove very useful. Indeed--this is a suggestion the Government may care to bear in mind--this is a Bill which could appropriately be introduced into this House for discussion.
The poet John Donne taught us nearly four centuries ago that no man is an island. Nor is a continent, even one which is the home of communities as successful and determined as is North America. The underlying necessity in this particular crisis is the need to keep the global context of our national measures constantly before us. I believe that this has been the Prime Minister's approach, as he exemplified in his remarkable speech in Brighton on Tuesday. I trust that the rest of us can, like him, continue to think of the global effect of what we actually do, and also of the global consequences if we do nothing in particular.
Of the speeches made in this interesting debate, I was struck by the suggestion made earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, about the need for a United Nations protectorate in Afghanistan. To this was added the latest suggestion of my noble friend Lord Hannay about what the Security Council might actually do. I suggest to your Lordships that his particular suggestion, based on his experience in the United Nations and in Afghanistan, is a very practical step forward for us to consider.
My Lords, for nearly nine hours we have had an extremely wide-ranging debate. During that time there have been many passionate and intellectually inspiring contributions, with many of which I have agreed. But by comparison I feel that what I have to say is an analysis of where we are and what we should be doing in this country to deal with the question of terrorism.
When we debated the issue of terrorism on 14th September in the immediate aftermath of the atrocities committed in America by those who can only be described as suicidal fanatics, there was a mixture of disbelief, shock, horror and anger felt throughout the civilised world. Those spontaneous emotions were quite naturally reflected in our debate that day. There was undoubtedly concern that a military response would take place almost immediately simply seeking revenge. Such a response could so easily miss the target and as a result kill many more thousands of innocent people. Such a hasty response could easily have provided a propaganda advantage for the terrorists with the Arab world with perhaps many Muslim countries being persuaded that we were indeed involved in a holy war. However, as we know, there has been no knee-jerk reaction. There was no immediate military offensive. Indeed, quite the opposite has been the case. Of course, there has been a military build-up but that has been coupled with the building of a world-wide coalition involving political, economic and diplomatic efforts to run the terrorists to ground and to establish international support for the war on terrorism, a war that is already attacking the bank accounts used by the terrorists and a war that will shortly attack the very source of much of the wealth in these accounts; that is, drugs from Afghanistan.
Leaders throughout the world in the coalition must not only be congratulated but supported for the way in which they have responded to the evil of terrorism that threatens us all and about which we have become much more conscious since 11th September 2001. Those congratulations and support are particularly directed at the president of America and our own Prime Minister, both of whom have demonstrated not only determination and commitment to defeat terrorism and bring the terrorists to justice but have shown patience and restraint to ensure that whatever military action is necessary the loss of innocent lives is minimised--something the terrorists never concern themselves with. Indeed, the Taliban has been given every opportunity to meet the demands of the international community and give up bin Laden. The approach and actions of the governments of America and Britain have ensured that it is universally recognised that this is not a war against peace loving Islam but a war on terrorism. That is now appreciated not only by what we know as the free, democratic and civilised world, but also by countries which have different cultures to our own.
The coalition of nations against terrorism is new and unique, the like of which the world has never before seen. It is a pity that it has taken such an outrage to bring about this international co-operation--international co-operation between security and intelligence services which is without precedent. That co-operation must never be allowed to elapse. Never again can we take anything for granted. I know that it has now become something of a cliche but the world has now changed and changed for ever. If people are to feel safe and secure, measures we have not experienced in the past will now become normal practice.
A start is already being made with proposals for sky marshals on planes, demands by American airline pilots for guns and demands for secure cockpits, as well as much greater security checks at airports. These safeguards will never be relaxed again. New laws will be passed all over the world. We in Britain cannot escape our responsibilities to ensure that this nation's people are safe and secure.
In this country we have always prided ourselves on extending civil liberties and human rights not only to our own citizens but also to those who have chosen to come and live here. That has been welcomed, but now we know more than ever before that there are those who exploit and abuse our liberal approach and generous conditions to such an extent that it now threatens our very security. Of course we must never abandon our civilised approach to civil liberties and human rights, for to do so would be to surrender to terror. However, I believe that now we have to re-establish a new balance between the provision of these values and the need for security and safety.
In that regard, there are four major and important areas which the Government have a prime duty thoroughly to examine and to bring before Parliament the appropriate proposals. For some of those to which I shall refer, I welcome the statements already made in that regard. First, I believe that the introduction of identity cards on a compulsory basis must be given serious consideration. In that regard, I am encouraged by the remarks of my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours in his maiden speech. Secondly, I believe that the laws governing asylum seekers should be tightened. Thirdly, I believe that our laws on extradition should be sharpened. Fourthly, I believe that the law, or the lack of law, which allows people publicly to preach support for terrorism should be drastically overhauled.
In respect of identification cards, I have heard it argued that it is a gross attack on civil liberties. I do not agree with that. I share the view that the innocent have nothing to fear from the introduction of identity cards. I have also heard it said that if ID cards are introduced, they will provide a field day for the forgers. To that I respond by saying that passports are forged, but we still produce passports. Counterfeiters forge currency, but we still produce banknotes. That argument does not wash with me. The answer is not to avoid producing ID cards; it is to make it more difficult for the forgers. I am not saying that ID cards alone will increase safety and security, but as one measure in a package of measures, I believe that it will help.
With regard to asylum seekers, I have seen it reported that there could be as many as 200,000 to 300,000 asylum seekers who have been denied entry to this country, but nevertheless have melted into our society and are surviving by way of the black economy. We do not know how many of those have become members of terrorist cells. Another newspaper report suggests that there are as many as 1,200 terrorists living in Britain today. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. In my view, the law should be tightened accordingly.
Concerning the question of extradition, it is clear that although there are a number who have committed terrorist acts in other countries, our current laws provide them with a safe haven in Britain, no doubt enabling some of them to continue to plot more terror, perhaps the next time against us. I believe that the law on extradition must be dramatically sharpened.
Finally, I turn to the law, or lack of law, that allows fanatics publicly to express support for terrorism, to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, referred. I refer in particular to those who expressed joy at the suicidal terrorist outrage on 11th September. That cannot be right. Most people in this country find that to be a bewildering scenario. This circumstance is not only morally wrong, it is also highly dangerous because such actions attract a backlash. It is the innocent Muslims living in this country who then come under attack. It is my view that the law should make such acts of support for terrorism illegal, much as has been done regarding the incitement of racial hatred.
It is clear that if we want the people of this nation to live in an environment that is safe and secure as far as possible from terrorism, in particular on the scale witnessed last month in America--and I am convinced that that is what most people want--then it is possible that the price to be paid is some curtailment--I stress: some curtailment--of what we currently know to be our civil liberties and human rights. I believe that that is a price worth paying in our attempt to ensure that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in a world free of terrorist atrocities.
My Lords, as one who has listened to 40 of the previous 47 speeches but sees considerably fewer than 47 people present to hear mine, I wondered for a moment whether I should detain your Lordships at all.
I do not want to pick up all the points that were made but I start with the position taken by the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice. In a most powerful speech he pointed out that, whatever we do, terrorism will not go away in the immediate future. We shall not stop it at a blow; we shall never stop it altogether. We must learn to live in a world in which regrettably it has already become established.
We can do some things to mitigate that in the short term and I believe that one of the most important was mentioned by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick: we should increase considerably our intelligence efforts and resources. That will cost money and should be taken into account in the Budget. We must be prepared to pay for it.
In the long term we must change the context in which terrorism flourishes, but not by the execution of vengeance. "Vengeance is mine", sayeth the Lord. "I will repay", we read in the Old Testament. I was fascinated to hear the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, quote a part of the Koran in which God is attributed with a very similar message. It seems that we need to know more about each other's faith if we are to live at peace with one another, and nothing could be more strengthening than that.
In parenthesis I suggest, not as an idea to be put into effect but as one to be considered very carefully, the success of integrated schools; for example, Lagan College in Belfast. I wonder whether it would be possible--it is a pity that no single Lord Spiritual is present to intervene at this point--to consider an integrated Christian and Muslim school. It would not be integrated in the same way, but if it were to take effect under a joint theological management, it may produce understanding. I put forward that point merely as an idea to be considered, but I believe that it should be considered quite hard.
The context in which terrorism flourishes does not produce the terrorism. That is produced by fanaticism and, I believe, by a misunderstanding in the nature of God. That is the case even with those who are neither Muslim nor Christian. I do not believe that the UDA is a Christian organisation any more than is the IRA or any more than Osama bin Laden's group is a Muslim organisation. That has been made clear today.
However, the context in which the terrorists are able to carry out their work is one in which, as I said in our previous debate, a great proportion of the world in poverty views a much smaller proportion of the world in wealth. It is one in which those who enjoy approximately 70 per cent of the total benefit of modern developments are, as they see it, in charge of the process of producing it. They manipulate it and are forced to protect it. They are the policemen and the millionaires. I am not saying that that is how it is, but that is how it looks. That matter must be addressed.
For a moment I was greatly excited by a passage that I read from the Prime Minister's speech at Brighton in which he said:
"the test of a decent society is not the contentment of the wealthy and strong, but the commitment to the poor and weak".
I happened to read that in a newspaper. After I had done so I read the rest of his speech and found that he was referring not to world society but to British society. What we apply to ourselves we have to apply to others. A decent world society is judged not by the contentment of the wealthy and strong but by the commitment to the poor and weak.
There has always been a moral imperative in that direction. What changed on 11th September is the recognition that there is also a very strong element of self-interest in that message. If we do not remove the context in which there is such disparity in wealth and security, our own security is very much at risk. The moral imperative has been joined by a strategic imperative. I say again and in spades that that is going to cost.
No noble Lord has yet discussed the fact that making the world not merely just for others but safe for us will necessarily involve a considerable impact on our own economy. I refer to the impact not of terrorism but that of the aid and structural change needed to bring the other part of the world into the enjoyment of wealth. That is not going to be popular in a democracy that votes on taxes.
We are in an extraordinary situation in the face of terrorism and in defence of liberty. It is surely axiomatic that in the defeat of someone who tries to take away one's liberty, one has to give up some of one's liberty in order to defend it. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Coity, urged us to give up a tiny bit of our liberty by having identity cards. As one who can still remember the number on his original identity card I have no trouble with that. One has to give up more serious liberties when one signs the Official Secrets Act. The defence of liberty involves giving some of it away. The defence of wealth also means giving some of one's wealth away.
I do not want to be tedious in relation to a subject about which I spoke only a few days ago. I probably did so with more energy because I was speaking earlier in the day. However, I speak with exactly the same degree of conviction. We have a moral and a strategic duty and an imperative to address the inequality of wealth in the world. If we do not, we shall not for long have a world at all.
My Lords, there must be some sort of memory in operation. I believe I am right in saying that on 14th September, the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Coity, was followed by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who was followed by me. We were in about the same place in a long batting list.
I start with a few words on identity cards. I take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, who made a notable maiden speech. He recounted an anecdote of his time in Paris as a student when his identity card saved him from the savage French police. I was there at the same time or a little earlier--1958--and have a slightly different tale to tell.
I was going to bed in my 1932 Wolseley one night in Pigalle. Someone was plainly anxious about what I was doing--undressing and putting on my pyjamas, as one should. Ten minutes later, there was a rap--a very savage rap--on the car. I looked out of the window and saw eight fierce, heavily armed army men with sub-machine guns that were all pointing in my direction. I gingerly got out of the car. I did not have an identity card but I uttered the immortal words, "Je suis anglais". That was sufficient for them to realise that I was a pathetic and eccentric Brit. They laughed hilariously, got on to the back of their fierce vehicle and drove off. I wish that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, had been here to hear my counter-story.
"An Act for the better discovering and repressing of Popish recusants".
That was a foul piece of legislation, entitling any Justice of the Peace to haul up any suspected Catholic to take an oath about the Pope and the King. It was repealed two centuries later, to much relief, because it did no good to anyone--indeed, it exacerbated tension.
I have considerable faith in the present Home Secretary, David Blunkett. The approach that he has taken to this thorny issue is exactly right: one of caution and determination to ensure that whatever is proposed is workable, essential and will have minimal impact on our current liberties.
Having said that--my noble friend Lord McNally referred to his sceptical approach--we must be careful of the over-mighty state. We need not think in exaggerated terms of Kafka and Nineteen Eighty-Four, but it is a truism to say that these days the state intrudes more and more, with greater and greater specificity, in our lives. Many people are uneasy about that. I have many friends who came here in those terrible pre-war years who will say, "The thing that I most value about this place is that I am on nobody's list; I feel free; I am free; I can change my name tomorrow; I have no identity card." Those are intangible but invaluable benefits of living in this land. The psychology of freedom must never be forgotten. Freedom is an issue of the heart. People talk about the climate of freedom, not its narrow specifics, and we so easily inadvertently undermine that.
The only truly effective way of having an identity card that is not easily circumvented by fraud would be by use of what is called a biometric identifier. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, was calm at the prospect of such a card. It would have not only one's picture but fingerprints or an iris scan, as well as details of one's DNA make-up. My objection to that--although I do not have a closed mind--is that we have so many examples of the incompetent state of national record-keeping. Let us take the national register of fingerprints and DNA samples for those who have been convicted or are suspected of crime. In the audit undertaken by the police last year, no fewer than 50,000 illegally held samples were found to be still on that register.
Fraud in relation to national registers is notorious. It is easy to get details of someone's convictions or their driving licence. It is as simple as pie to get details of anybody's bank account in any bank. We should steer clear of such a scheme unless its arrangements are foolproof, but without an overwhelming bureaucracy, and unless it will achieve its purpose--the biggest question of all.
I turn to the issue of terrorism and concentrate on the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. Although there are many causes of terrorism, there is no doubt that the Israel-Palestine stand-off since the creation of the state of Israel has been the principal cause of bad blood and poison in the Middle East and surrounding regions. If we are--as others have said, and as I said on 14th September--in the business of winning hearts and minds as an essential precondition of making any serious dent in terrorism, we in the West must have a live sense of our failings, understand how others see us, especially those from different cultures, and adopt an even-handed approach in future actions in a way that, sadly but undoubtedly, we have failed to do vis a vis Israel and Palestine.
The noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, in another admirable maiden speech, talked of our treatment of Iraq and Iran. What he did not mention, though I will because it is an extremely live issue in Iran, is that when, in 1980, Saddam Hussein made a grab for some of Iran's most fruitful oil territory, our response was to take the line that "my enemy's enemy is my friend." We armed Saddam Hussein to the teeth and supported him throughout the devastating eight-year war which then ensued. The Americans, ourselves and the French were his allies and suppliers. It is estimated that 1 million Iranian people died in that war, the same as we lost in World War I, and many more millions were injured. That sort of conduct--"realpolitik" as some call it--is of the most counterproductive variety which poisons relations for years to come.
Reference was made to the clash of religions. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London and my noble friend Lady Williams pointed in the direction of not so much a clash of religions as sometimes a clash of religions and values. Although it is difficult for me to say this, I believe that when the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said that the World Trade Centre was a symbol of modern civilisation, that was perhaps a good example of seeing those twin towers from our own vantage point and not as they are apt to be seen by other countries. Many Muslim states regard the World Trade Centre as a symbol of the infinite power, the unalloyed materialism and aggressive competitiveness of America and the West. And I am bound to say that modern multinationals are often ambivalent ambassadors of western values. We need to contemplate and understand how we are seen by others and to be a little humble in trying to understand that.
Finally, a word on even-handedness. What I say is critical of Israel and America, and indeed of ourselves. But I should immediately add that I agree entirely with the tone of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Janner. I count myself a friend of Israel. I offered to enlist in the Israeli Army in the Yom Kippur war. It is against that backdrop that I make these remarks.
When visiting, as I did in the spring, the camps in which the Palestinian refugees are housed, I learnt for the first time that the anniversary of 2nd November 1917, the day of the Declaration of Balfour, is regarded as a day of mourning throughout the 59 Palestinian camps. It is worth remembering that the Balfour declaration specifically says that in providing a national home for the Jewish people,
"it must be clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".
That has been honoured in the breach. The Palestinians have never been asked in a plebiscite whether they wanted the creation of the state of Israel on their land. Though I am sure everyone in this House is resolutely committed--the deed having been done--to the preservation and the guaranteeing of the safety of the state of Israel, we must see it through the eyes of not only Palestinians, but also many other countries in that region of the world. To them we are hypocrites, salving our own consciences vis-a-vis the Jews, particularly after the holocaust, by giving away someone else's land. There are 1.2 million refugees in 59 disgusting, degrading, disgraceful camps as we sit here. They, and a further 2.5 million registered Palestinian refugees, are all men and women and descendents who left what is now Israel in 1947-48, when 70 per cent of the inhabitants were ejected or left because they were frightened.
We need to understand how the situation seems to those people. If we fail to do that, we shall never come near to a resolution of the terrorist problem that we are talking about tonight. Those camps drive the people in them to an extremism that we have seen demonstrated in the grotesque events of 11th September. They are breeding grounds for new terrorists. Nothing will stop that unless we change the circumstances.
I end with a word of hope. We all know of the breakdown of Camp David, but I had not fully appreciated--and others of your Lordships may be in the same position--that the negotiations continued thereafter. In January this year at Taba in Egypt, the two delegations came to a broad agreement, though tragically it came too late for implementation, because that was shortly before the election in which Mr Barak was defeated by Mr Sharon. I shall read two excerpts from the documentation that came out of the Taba talks.
The first quotation comes from the response by the Israelis to a Palestinian refugee paper of 22nd January last. The Israelis said:
"The issue of the Palestinian refugees is central to Israeli-Palestinian relations. Its comprehensive and just resolution is essential to creating a lasting and morally scrupulous peace".
The response went on:
"it is incumbent to take responsibility to assist in resolving the Palestinian refugee problem of 1948 . . . These refugees spent decades without dignity, citizenship and property".
The agreement that was reached but never implemented involved a method of dealing with that grievous problem that would have stood a reasonable chance of success. The final joint declaration said:
"The way forward lies in international legitimacy and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 leading to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side-by-side, with their respective capitals in Jerusalem".
There is great hope and I believe that if we can build on the point that was reached in January, a great deal of our concerns will indirectly be resolved.
My Lords, the debate has moved down a large number of side roads, but at its heart is the question of the best way in which to defeat terrorism. In seeking to rid the world of terrorism, we are fighting a fire. The first rule of firefighting is to avoid adding fuel to the flames. It is my belief and that of the Green Party that any heavy-handed military action against Islamic fundamentalists would add fuel to the fire. I shall explain why.
The terrorists want us to attack. They have sought to manoeuvre us into it. Their attack on 11th September was meant to provoke us into heavy-handed reaction. They want us to attack as heavy-handedly as possible. However, making martyrs for the further inspiration of new adherents to the cause would result in further terrorist attacks on the West. It would not be a military success; it would be a grand strategic failure. Our retaliation would serve their purpose of escalation, not our purpose of defeating terrorism in the short and the long term. If anyone doubts that, I ask them to remember the seed sown by the execution in Dublin Castle of the patriots who rose against British rule in 1916. That has proved to be one of the seeds of a great deal of the terrorism that has happened in Ireland and Northern Ireland ever since.
I do not speak lightly about this because, although I was as shocked and horrified as anyone by what happened on the morning of 11th September, I was the more so because my daughter and grandchildren were living within half a mile of the twin towers and for some time I did not know what might have happened to them. I am glad to say that they are all well and reasonably happy.
The second step in fighting this fire is to cut off the oxygen supply. President Bush has handled the situation admirably so far. He has already taken steps to cut off funding, as we have. The world is practically unanimous in condemning the atrocities. A major step has been taken to isolate the fire and the steps need to be consolidated. But it is important that the United Nations is seen as the best forum for international agreements and it is to be hoped that the United States of America will abandon some of its traditional antipathy.
But we must go much further. Terrorism did not begin on 11th September 2001; nor are some Islamic fundamentalists its only proponents. Every state which kills or aids the killing of civilians is guilty of terrorism. President Bush has not declared war on terrorism only on some terrorism. For decades US governments have been ignoring, sponsoring or even perpetrating acts of terrorism when they have perceived some benefit to themselves from such a course of action. The United States and the United Kingdom were complicit in the murder of up to one million people by the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia during the 1960s when Suharto invaded and occupied East Timor and killed one fifth of the original population. The British and United States governments maintained friendly terms and fell over themselves to supply arms. I put it to this House and to Her Majesty's Government that if we are serious about defeating terrorism there is no room for such an appalling double standard.
In one of the admirable maiden speeches we have heard tonight I heard one of the very best mixed metaphors ever. "A global alliance is not a one-way street". It is not, but nor is a war on terrorism a one-way street. Double standards which have been displayed in the past by the West, and by many other nations--in the training of Contra terrorists in Nicaragua, for example--must be abandoned in future. We must be clear about our mission. It is not merely to put an end to some terrorists, it is to end the scourge of terrorism. It is not something which is just perpetrated by hijackers and shadowy figures in black balaclavas. It is something which states themselves can and do indulge in.
We are clear that in seeking to defeat terrorism we are promoting the rule of law. On the international stage we must adhere to international law. Yet we have far from spotless records in that regard. The Geneva Convention forbids attacks on civilians in wartime, but that has been repeatedly ignored, not least in the last two wars of 1991 and 1999 in which we took part. An estimated 200,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the slaughter known as the Gulf War and its immediate aftermath, as a result of targeting policies calculated to destroy the civilian economic infrastructure. In the bombing of Yugolsavia in 1999 NATO breached international law which forbids attacks on civilians and civilian objects. No wonder that about 1,500 Yugoslav civilians were killed in that campaign.
In that sense, our Government were guilty of regarding ordinary Iraqis and Yugoslavs as the enemy. That is what the terrorist does. He regards the people who were working in the two towers as the enemy. The only moral course of action must be one that tries to avoid civilian casualties. Of course there will be some, but we must try to avoid that as far as possible.
If we are to inspire the whole world to collaborate energetically in the defeat of terrorism, it must be to defeat all terrorism. There must be no turning a blind eye to acts of terror simply because we want to do business with the perpetrators, as in the case of Indonesia. There must be no sponsorship of terrorism by western Governments, as there was in the case of Nicaragua. Our Governments must recognise international criminal law and never act outside it.
If we hold dear the sanctity of human life, we cannot, and must not, take any action that would escalate this crisis, leading to the death of more innocent people in any country. To return to Sun Tzu, he said that the acme of military skill was not to win 100 victories in 100 battles, but to win without fighting.
My Lords, having spent the last year of my government service fully caught up in the Gulf war, I appreciate from my own experience at that time the complex and difficult task of assembling a wide-ranging coalition of governments world-wide. I also appreciate the sensitivities of Muslim societies round the world to a conflict in which non-Muslim governments confront a Muslim country. The very great care being taken by the US and our own Government to explain their actions and to stress that this is a battle against terrorism and certainly not against Islam is absolutely right.
I also know only too well how it feels to be, at the time of potential military action, on the inside looking out at external commentators, however well-intentioned and expert they think they are. At best, their views and speculations can be hopelessly wide of the mark and are often counter-productive. At worst, they can be unwittingly close to the highly classified and sensitive truth, and therefore dangerous. I shall be as careful as I can to try to avoid both those pitfalls.
I did not intend to mention Northern Ireland, but I shall echo my noble friend Lord Dubs. I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, is not in her place, but I have to say that I was appalled at the terms she used in speaking of Cyril Ramaphosa, a great champion and hero of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and leader of the free trade union movement, and Martti Ahtisaari, whom I have the pleasure to know. He is not only a very distinguished former president of Finland, but was the special envoy from the UN charged with the sensitive task of bringing Namibia to independence. Neither man is easily hoodwinked, nor are they strangers to arms or conflict. I hope that the noble Baroness will review the language that she has now used twice in this House about these men.
Two days before the terrible events of 11th September, I read with dismay about the assassination in Northern Afghanistan of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic leader of the Northern Alliance--the Lion of Panshir, as he was known. He had been perhaps the most successful Mujaheddin leader in the fight against the Soviets and was greatly feared by the Taliban.
I read the reported details of the two so-called journalists with false passports. Some reports in the newspapers referred to Moroccans with Belgian passports. How clever for an interview with French-speaking Massoud. Whatever the accuracy of those newspaper details, their credentials must have been convincing to gain them access to him when they exploded their camera, killing themselves and fatally injury Massoud.
It is easy to recognise immediately the hallmark of bin Laden and his henchmen. I thought then how significant it was that he would do this enormous favour for the Taliban. Massoud was not a natural priority target for bin Laden, but he was a serious threat to the Taliban. That surely meant that bin Laden and his organisation, Al'Qaeda, were inextricably linked with the leadership of the Taliban. If one considers them to be that close--and today's Statement confirmed that, giving more evidence--it makes absolute nonsense of the charade that the Taliban have been performing since 11th September in their constant prevarications about their so-called "guest". I am glad to see that if they calculated that Massoud's murder would demoralise his own men and the other members of the Northern Alliance, now called the United Front, that was wrong. In fact in appears that it has inflamed them to fight to seek revenge from Massoud's death.
Whatever form the government of Afghanistan take in the future, it has to be something better than the Taliban. What is vital is the pledge that we will not turn our backs on Afghanistan again afterwards. That pledge was given by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in his powerful speech last Tuesday in Brighton, when he also promised that the humanitarian coalition would be assembled alongside the military coalition and that the world community must show its capacity for compassion as much as for force. Those pledges were repeated in today's Statement. That is the twin-track approach which was advocated by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, earlier today.
Everyone agrees that nothing at all can ever justify the terrible barbarism of 11th September. However, I have become increasingly concerned by commentators who, always carefully prefacing their remarks with, "Nothing can of course justify or excuse", then go on to talk about looking for explanations and usually end up with American foreign policy in general and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict in particular. Well, I am sorry, I do not accept that approach for one minute. "Explain" is in this context as unacceptable a word as "excuse" or "justify". The faults in the Versailles Treaty and the shortcomings of the Weimar Republic cannot "explain" Auschwitz or Belsen--and no grievances can "explain" 11th September.
I was most pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Lamont of Lerwick, made that distinction very clearly in his speech when he turned to the Middle East and went out of his way to say that of course that has nothing to do with an explanation for 11th September. Unfortunately, not all speakers made that distinction so clearly.
Bin Laden wants, among other things, to exterminate Israel, as the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, said in his impressive speech. And bin Laden wants to drive the US out of the Middle East and he wants his version of Islam to be predominant. Does anyone seriously believe that he or his followers care about any peace process or fair settlement? That is not to deny what we must all want--a just settlement of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict--but it has to be justice for both sides. That means justice for the Palestinians and also justice for Israel.
I have to say that I have not found all today's contributions on the Middle East either as fair or balanced in that connection. When one invokes UN resolutions on the Middle East, let us never forget the UN resolution of more than 50 years ago which created the state of Israel. That also must be honoured.
I conclude with a word about the special forces, who are currently much discussed in the media by people with varying degrees of expertise or wisdom and sometimes with not a great deal of either. I believe that the less said in public about the special forces the better.
Having had some contact with them in the past, I should like to say that wherever they might be, and might or might not be doing, I know them to be capable of astonishing feats of courage, endurance and achievement. We in the United Kingdom are extremely fortunate that we can be confident in their ability to carry out whatever is asked of them.
My Lords, perhaps I may begin by joining other noble Lords in expressing great appreciation of the Government's demonstration of solidarity with the United States in its declaration of war against international terrorism, in ways which have been both principled and practical.
However, there are a number of concerns which I wish to raise based on first-hand experience of working in some of the areas directly associated with international terrorism. But, first, as Islamic terrorism has been the main focus of investigations following the attacks on New York and Washington, I join other noble Lords in emphasising the great importance of taking every precaution to avoid Islamophobia, by making that fundamental distinction between the religion of Islam and the ideology of violent Islamism, and also the importance of the Government's commitment to take the threat of violent Islamism very seriously. Otherwise, the Islamist terrorists' activities may generate a backlash against the vast majority of the peaceable Muslims who live in our midst.
The aspect of violent Islamism which I wish to address briefly relates to this country, to Azerbaijan, Indonesia and the Sudan. I have been interested to read accounts of measures now being taken against avowed Islamists living here in the United Kingdom, such as Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammed. Only two days ago, The Times reported that British authorities have begun to crack down on militant Muslims who use Britain as a sanctuary for fundraising and inciting terrorism.
I hope that it will not be unhelpful, or be seen to be arrogant, if I remind your Lordships' House that in January of last year I gave detailed examples of some of the ways in which Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammed and other Islamists, such as the Afghan veteran Abu Hamza, were recruiting and training Islamists in this country. I also drew attention to a very powerful film on the "Despatches" series, which shows those Islamist teachers teaching their ideology and the tactics of Islamist terrorism. That film was screened on our national TV in August of 1999.
I raise this matter because people are asking many questions. Why did it take so long for the authorities to begin to act? How many recruits have been trained in Islamist terrorism here in Britain in the intervening two years? How many have been sent abroad to fight in jihads to gain military experience? How much money has been raised in this country and used for deadly purposes? Why have the authorities allowed organisations such as Al Muhajiroun to demonstrate and to use language inciting racial hatred and violence with apparent impunity?
It appears that a great deal of licence has been given to those who have been recruiting and training terrorists here in Britain--until the terrible events in New York and Washington occurred. It is of particular concern that many of the men who carried out those appalling acts had been in or had passed through this country.
I ask these questions and raise these issues, not in a spirit of recrimination, but because they are legitimate concerns felt by many people who would welcome reassurance. Furthermore, because they demonstrate why any measures proposed by the Government to correct those problems should be strongly supported. I have today gratefully received a letter from the Minister which addresses some of these issues.
Another concern relates to funding Islamist terrorism either directly or indirectly in the guise of charitable organisations. Last Tuesday, International Herald Tribune reported the United States initiatives to block the assets of charities suspected of aiding Osama bin Laden's Al'Qaeda network:
"Officials tracking Mr bin Laden's Al'Qaeda network say they have found a sophisticated financial infrastructure that stretches from the United Arab Emirates to Europe, to Indonesia, and uses mechanisms as varied as charitable organisations, manufacturing companies and credit card fraud to raise money and move it around the globe".
The Government are to be fully supported in taking any similar measures. However, are there similar proposals to clamp down on infiltration of non-charitable organisations by those associated with Islamist terrorism? A report in the Sunday Times last year alleged that a Sudanese business man, Salah Idris--believed to be an Islamist and a friend of Osama bin Laden--is a major shareholder in many firms, including those responsible for security at the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Courts of Justice, British Airways and Texaco. It would seem a serious threat to security, to have people apparently with terrorist connections engaged at the highest level in financial systems responsible for some of our most politically and strategically significant institutions.
Many people were not satisfied with the Written Answer of 9th October 2001, which implied that there was no cause for concern because Salah Idris had no day-to-day involvement in the running of the company. That seems naive in the extreme. Can the Minister say whether such possible Islamist penetration into key organisations will be subject to more rigorous investigation?
Looking abroad, I returned two days ago from Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, where the people expressed deep concern at the well-recorded activities of Islamist terrorists in neighbouring Azerbaijan. That was my 52nd visit to the region. Many visits were during the bitter war in 1991-94, when Azerbaijan's self-confessed policy of ethnic cleansing of Armenians from Karabakh was at its height and the Armenians were trying to defend their right to live in their historic land against impossible odds.
During that war, the Azeri leadership enlisted more than 1,000 Islamist mujaheddin mercenaries--including Arab veterans of the Afghan war. Some of bin Laden's senior military commanders fought in at least two battles in Karabakh. So the Armenian people have already held one front line against Islamist terrorism without any help from western countries. Britain, with its huge oil interests in Azerbaijan, generally favoured Azerbaijan.
That favourable attitude towards Azerbaijan has continued despite long-standing reports of continuing Islamist terrorist activity condoned or supported by the Azeri leadership. In August 1998, the Azerbaijan branch of the Islamic Jihad--which by then had merged with Osama bin Laden's Al'Qaeda--repeatedly played a vital role as a communications centre during the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and wounded several thousand. During those operations, 60 calls from a satellite phone used by bin Laden were reportedly made to his associates in Baku and from them to operatives in East Africa.
The story continues in October 1999, when an article in Defence & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy by the expert on Islamist terrorism, Yossef Bodansky, entitled The New Azerbaijan Hub: How Islamist Operations are Targeting Russia, Armenia & Nagorno Karabakh, described in chilling detail the activities of Islamists in Azerbaijan--including the training of suicide warriors and the smuggling of weapons and money, sometimes under the guise of supporting charitable organisations.
The Chechen Islamist leader, Muvladi Udugov, has said publicly that he is happy to assist Azerbaijan with a so-called resolution of the Karabakh problem--confirming the policy that Islamists should first seize Chechnya, then Dagestan and Karabakh, which was destined to become a centre for Islamist terrorist activities.
Canada has now included Azerbaijan on the list of countries where terrorists are trained and has instigated a policy of special checks for people with links to Azerbaijan trying to enter Canada. Meanwhile, the US embassy in Baku is reportedly denying permission for Azeri citizens to enter the United States after US State Department officials placed Azerbaijan on the list of countries supporting international terrorism. I therefore ask the Minister whether Her Majesty's Government have similar policies in place with regard to Azerbaijan. If, so, perhaps he could indicate what they are. If not, why not?
I have also recently had the privilege of visiting Indonesia and travelling to the exotically-named Spice Islands or the Moluccas, which had been a kind of Paradise but which have become a kind of hell. Indonesia had a reputation for religious tolerance, where Muslim and Christian communities lived peacefully together. However, in the Moluccas, the situation changed tragically in January 1997 when violent conflict erupted. That conflict has since claimed the lives of thousands and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes to live as internally displaced people in harsh conditions in the jungle.
Through my organisation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, I have been working with the traditional Muslim and Christian leaders. We met members of both communities during our recent visit to the islands of Ambon and Seram. They expressed their grave fears over the arrival of between 2,000 to 3,000 Lasker Jihad warriors who were stirring up religious conflict and engaging in militant activities. There is widespread concern in the Moluccas that the Lasker Jihad will take over this strategic part of Indonesia for militant Islamism. There is therefore an urgent need, which I hope the Government will be able to meet, to encourage and support the new administration in Indonesia in any policy needed to contain militant Islamic developments in Molucca and to encourage reconciliation and reconstruction between the communities in the conflict-ridden areas.
I refer briefly to Sudan. The United Nations Security Council has lifted sanctions, but the day after those sanctions were lifted the Islamist National Islamic Front regime released El Turabi from gaol. El Turabi was the mastermind behind Sudan's terrorist activities. He and the regime have longstanding connections with Osama bin Laden and numerous terrorist organisations. Professor Eric Reeves, a scholar with deep knowledge of Sudan, wrote on 28th September:
"The mountain of evidence linking Osama bin Laden and Sudan's National Islamic Front continues to grow--and it is clear that the links are emphatically in the present tense. Al-Shamel bank is, for the moment, only the most conspicuous financial link. . . . Just as significantly, construction and agricultural interests in Sudan continue to supply bin Laden and his Al'Qaeda organisation with huge revenues. And, in an extremely important development, the Khartoum regime is revealed today in a report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, to have 'arranged for diplomatic credentials for bin Laden followers, allowing them unfettered travel around the world'".
The Hindustan Times writes:
"The State Department and the Bush administration had best think long and hard before going further down the road of 'co-operation' with a Khartoum regime that is still clearly in the terrorism business. There are a host of additional links between Khartoum and bin Laden and Al'Qaeda that are only now emerging in the wake of the horrors of September 11 . . . The United States will have betrayed its declared goal in confronting world terrorism if it does not face up squarely to these ongoing realities [in Sudan]".
Those words apply equally to the United Kingdom.
The sophistication of the attacks in New York and Washington prove that Islamist terrorism has created a large, well-funded and widespread network of organisations with a ruthless agenda, supported by people who are so fanatic that they desire to commit suicide in fulfilment of their life's mission. At stake is the abuse of the freedoms democracy enshrines by those who would destroy those freedoms and, indeed, democracy itself with weapons which have no historical precedent.
Therefore, I hope that the Minister will be able to assure the House that the Government's response now, although in some ways late as far as this country is concerned, will not be little. I hope also that the Government will receive appropriate support for whatever may be needed to contain this menace to our security, freedom and civilisation.
My Lords, I am the 55th speaker today. I accept all the usual responses--"It was a terrible attack." "We must do something about it." "The fight will go on for a long time", and so on--but let me speak about matters which have not been mentioned before.
I do not like the word "terrorism". It is too loose and it is very difficult to apply to whoever we do not like. I have said in the House in the past that normally in our former colonies terrorists became Prime Ministers. One British Prime Minister called Nelson Mandela a terrorist and the head of a terrorist organisation. It does not do to use the word "terrorism" or to have a war against terrorism. That is like the war against drugs; it has gone on and will go on for ever.
I should like to understand what it is that makes these people--these militants, terrorists, liberation fighters or whatever--do what they do. It is very important not to say merely that they are cowardly and fanatical--all that is irrelevant--we must understand them.
The roots of this family of terrorism lie in an ethnic nationalism which is fired by religion. When you combine a primordial ethnic nationalism with a religion which has a very large reach, you get a phenomenon which is rooted in the people and which has a very long reach. Those people who are Islamic terrorists obviously come from a background of a post-colonial fight over Palestine, the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the mess that it made, and the part that the West played.
We have to understand that these people sincerely believe in what they do and are willing to stake their lives. If they are willing to stake their lives, we must understand why they do so. I do not think that it is helpful to say that Islam is a religion of peace; that there are peaceful Muslims and that these people are horrible. All religions are religions of peace and all religions have been involved in wars.
I am the only speaker today who cannot be called a child of Abraham. I am not a child of Abraham; I am an atheist. Even were I not an atheist, I would not be a child of Abraham. Abraham's children have a habit of quarrelling and killing each other which they have practised for the past two millennia. With all the sincerity that I can command, I believe that religion is part of the problem and not part of the solution. As a young man, I thought religion would disappear. I am astonished that it is still around and doing as much harm as it does.
These people, these primordial nationalists, have a cause. That cause is partly to do with Palestine and partly to do with the history of the decline of Islamic states, particularly in Arabia. We must try to understand why, over the 20th century, the one region which did not modernise, the one region which did not develop, is that part of the Middle East which we call Arabia.
It is quite astonishing that although we are in favour of democracy and modernity and so on, our allies in the Middle East are not democrats; they are kings. Despite the wealth that has been accumulated in the Middle East since 1973, they have treated their people like dirt. Let us make no mistake about that. One of the criticisms made by Osama bin Laden--and he is much more against the Saudi sultans than he is against America--is that these are hypocrites who, in the name of Islam, accumulate a lot of wealth and then go and gamble it in Monte Carlo.
One of the arguments is about a purer life. We should understand that because it was the Puritans in the 17th century who fought a civil war here and then unsettled America. They were also that kind of people. We really must understand where this phenomenon comes from.
There used to be a modernising movement in Islam through much of the inter-war and post-war period. Indeed, in the Middle East the Ba'ath Party, which was a secular, modern party, was undermined by the fact that the oil wealth was situated in the territories of the most feudal elements in the Middle East who have encouraged the reversal of modernity in Islam and have gone back to the primordial fundamentalist route of the Wahabis and others. All that has been funded by oil money. It may redound on the sultanates of the Middle East if the war goes on for a long time. It is an unintended but predictable consequence of the war that we shall not have any sultanates left in the Middle East.
I know that that will cause a problem with regard to the price of oil, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said. However, we should care about more than the price of oil. It is because we care only about the price of oil in the Middle East that the Middle East is the mess it is. The Middle East is not just a source of oil and a consumer of arms; people actually live there. We have not thought about the people who live there. We have treated them as a vast blank mass. Is it not surprising that the only modern Muslim "near democracy" in the entire region is Pakistan? We must be careful about Pakistan, which is in a fragile situation. I say to many of my Indian friends, "Do not celebrate the likely disintegration of Pakistan; you will have five Talibans, one of them equipped with nuclear power". It is in the interest of all of us to make quite sure that whatever demands we make on Pakistan we do not topple it because an unstable, fragmented Pakistan will pose a much bigger danger in the Middle East, partly because it will be seen to be a failure of a modernising experiment in Islam. That is why, despite the problems that Pakistan has--I shall not detain your Lordships with those--it is important that it should be shored up and defended.
We ought to concentrate on the long-term consequences and the shape of the post-war settlement in the Middle East. We have in our universities the intellectual resources to be able to start two kinds of studies. One should study the nature of terrorists, how they function and where they are recruited. Some naive theories about poverty and deprivation can be discarded; we must study the ideological and functional base of terrorism. We have the resources to do that; let us use them.
Further, we must use our resources to plan how we shall develop and modernise Arabia, if I may call it that, when the war is over or during the course of it because we have not considered the miserable human development conditions in Saudi Arabia. For many years I have been associated with a UN human development report. A favourite conclusion we reach is that despite low GDP a country can have a high human development index, high longevity, a high level of education and high income. However, countries where incomes are high can have citizens with low longevity who are illiterate. We contrasted the position in Sri Lanka and in Oman. Oman is a rich country but its people live in a miserable condition. In Saudi Arabia a woman cannot drive a car or cannot leave the country without the permission of a male relative. That is a violation of fundamental human rights. If we are in the business of attacking the Taliban, let us also state to our allies in the Middle East, "You are our friends but you ought to do better than you are doing". That is very important.
I should like to make a final point. Many noble Lords have mentioned the problem of Palestine. The problem goes back either to 1948 or it is a recent one. I believe that the election of Mr Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister was for many people in the region almost the final straw. It represented a total loss of hope. But in Israel Prime Ministers change every 10 months and Mr Sharon will go. Let us hope that a Labour Prime Minister is then elected so that the debate as it was until January of this year can be revived. In doing so, however, I hope that we shall not see a bilateral meeting held in Camp David. Instead let there be a multinational gathering involving the European Union, the United States and many Arab countries of the region to discuss the problem of Palestine in a comprehensive manner. We must avoid solving one problem and then creating more difficulties in other places. That might then create new nationalist demands and others would then resort to terrorist attacks to have those demands met.
It will be a difficult task, but while we fight this war in military and other dimensions, we should be thinking hard about how we could do better by Arabia than we have done so far.
My Lords, this has been an amazing debate, full of wisdom and experience. Like other noble Lords, I support the Government's determination to bring justice to bear on those responsible for the terrible horrors which took place in New York and Washington. Such an outrage undoubtedly demands an appropriate and proportionate response.
I was interested to learn recently that the principle of "An eye for an eye" was first codified into law in Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago. But of course the teaching of the philosophy of "An eye for an eye" has limiting as well as well as permissive aspects. Yes, you can take an eye for an eye, but you must not take more than an eye. Perhaps that is not uninteresting in the present circumstances.
Neither terrorism nor our response to it will solve the fundamental, long-term problems of the relationship between Islam and the West. I suggest that there are two groups of problems: the political problems and problems of a difference in fundamental values, which were first referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams. Other noble Lords have discussed the political issues with far more expertise than I could, so I shall not presume to trespass on to that ground. However, when it comes to fundamental values, I have, curiously, some modest qualification to speak. That is because, in the latter part of his life, my father became a Muslim. Of course he was not a fundamentalist; he was a contemplative. Although I did not follow him down that route, I learned to respect the teachings of Islam.
We are not concerned here with two values--Islam and the Christian West--but rather with three values: the values of Islam; the values of Christianity and the values of secular materialism. Christianity and Islam share a view of the world which is based on the belief that there is some power greater than the forces of nature and man's natural intelligence. They believe that there is a purpose and meaning to man's life here. They believe that there are truths which the human brain cannot understand and that those truths are important. Since time immemorial it has been the role of the revealed religions of the world to try to help men to live their lives on earth in harmony with those higher values.
Both Christianity and Islam see this task in the context of a theistic vision of the universe, but they work out the details of their message to humanity in different ways. However, the fundamental message and the fundamental values are the same. Secular materialism is different. It is not theistic and does not envisage any higher power than the forces of nature and man's ingenuity. Its aims are personal happiness, individual freedom, material well-being and freedom from pain, which are all most desirable.
Over past centuries Christianity and Islam have had to come to terms with secular materialism, and they have done so in different ways. At this point I look nervously at the Bishops. Christianity has taken the route of compromise. I suggest that for the vast majority of Christians today their religion is an "optional extra", tacked on to the secular materialistic values by which we live.
Islam is different. Islam tends to be a way of life. It certainly does not exclude materialism. But for a Muslim believer, materialism, however important it may be, takes second place. As has been said by, I believe, two noble Lords, the great fear of most moderate Muslims today and, indeed, also of the tiny minority of fundamentalists, is that Islam is being subsumed into the secular materialism of the West as Christianity has very largely been already. That would change the whole nature of Islam and of Muslim society.
In what I considered to be an extremely important speech, the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, referred to globalisation and the perceived imbalance of economic power between Islam and the West. He suggested that that was among the causes of the fanatical attack on the United States. He drew attention to the fact that many Muslim societies see the West as exercising a form of quasi-colonialism and said that they fear that the values of their society are being eroded. At the level of beliefs and values, I am sure that it is that threat to the values and beliefs of their society which frightens all true Muslim believers.
I have risen to speak briefly today because I believe that, if the West wants peaceful co-existence with Islam, we need to understand those deep fears and to respect them. As the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, said, we need to engage with Islam as a friend and, perhaps I may add, with some humility. If we do not, we shall play into the hands of the fanatics and fundamentalists and we shall help them to recruit support. We shall then be forced into a terrible war of attrition without an ending.
There is a need for understanding; there is a need for dialogue; and there is a need for humility from the Western world. Muslim society may have its faults, but so does our own. Indeed, conceivably we may even sometimes be able to learn from them.
The Christian Churches have, in a sense, a foot in both camps--the theistic camp and the Western materialist camp. They could do much to improve mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence between Islam and the West. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester referred to work which is already being done. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, threw down a challenge. He said that religion is part of the problem. Well, let the Christian Churches do something about it. In that context, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury introduced a debate last January in which I spoke. He urged the Churches to do more to prevent international conflict. I believe that now is the moment for him to prove his point.
My Lords, there has been some talk in this place and outside it of the idealism that underlies the activities that led to the events of 11th September. I believe that we need to look at the full extent of the results of those events before we accept the verity of those propositions. It has been said often that the aim of the terrorists has been to help the poor and the dispossessed in the Middle East and in other parts of the world. I believe that the remarks of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London were extremely interesting in that respect. I should like to draw colleagues' attention to them when they look at Hansard tomorrow.
I draw even more attention to the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, who briefly quoted from a report by the World Bank on the effects that the attacks would have on child mortality around the world. I should like to detain the House for a moment by quoting rather more extensively than the noble Baroness had time to do. I refer to a report in the International Herald Tribune of 1st October, which quoted the words of James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank. He said:
"there is another human toll that is largely unseen and one that will be felt in all parts of the developing world, especially Africa. We estimate that between 20,000 and 40,000 more children will die worldwide and some 10 million people will be condemned to live below the poverty line of $1 a day because of the terrorist attacks. . . . the economic fallout from the attacks would cause several poor countries to stall or fall into recession because of a sharp decline in exports, the collapse of tourism and steep drops in commodity prices and investment . . . There is an absolutely clear link between the drop in economic activity and infant mortality and poverty".
When we read reports of the airline business and the tourist trade being hit we need to bear in mind the extremely profound truth that a hidden economic suffering will be imposed on the poorest people, who are supposed to be candidates for receiving the sympathy and support of Mr bin Laden and his friends. I very much hope that Ministers in this country will hammer away again and again at that theme and that they will show people that this matter is not just about 7,000 people being struck down in New York City; it is also about the effects on the poor around the world. We are far from having heard the end of the story.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, struck an extremely important note when he pointed out that the incubation period of attacks of this sort involves not just months but very often years. It therefore follows that other attacks are already now in the process of incubation. If I interpret the noble Lord correctly, it is not just likely that we shall have more outrages of this sort; it is absolutely certain. I am grateful to him for indicating his assent. That will have further implications on child mortality in the poorest parts of the world. I hope that noble Lords will emphasise those matters on every possible occasion in this country and in public fora elsewhere.
I am afraid that it used to be said by certain sorts of people that it was high time the Americans got their comeuppance and that we would see what would happen if they were ever hit by terrorism. Americans, it was said, had a soft society, were decadent, would crack and could not take it like the rest of us.
As it happens, I was in Manhattan eating my breakfast on the morning of 11th September. I was there for a few days afterwards as well. New Yorkers did not crack or run. They knew perfectly well, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said, that there might be more attacks any day. They did not send their children off to the country and there were no attempts to construct air raid shelters or to get hold of survival equipment. The spirit of the New Yorker showed itself in an absolutely magnificent manner. Moreover, their sense of humour remained inviolate. We should all be extremely grateful for that.
I shall not add to the many wise words of analysis of the reasons for terrorism or the recommendations of policy changes for this country or other countries. However, I want to say one or two words about some things that I think we should do in this country and could usefully do in this House.
In particular, I want to talk about intelligence matters. There are four elements in intelligence work. There is the collection of the product, its collation and analysis, the distribution of the product in the right form to the right people to ensure that those who should get the message get it and, finally, the protection of the product. We need to look at all four elements of intelligence work in our operations.
Initially, in respect of the collection of the product, I echo everything that has already been said about the need for more resources--in fact, I said in this House not so many weeks ago that I thought that more resources should be given to intelligence work, especially human intelligence work. There is a massive investment in this country, not all of it revealed to the public gaze, underpinning the work of general communications headquarters. That is a good investment. However, nothing approaching that amount of investment is made in the human intelligence work of the other services.
On collation, analysis and distribution, I want to say a word or two about the extremely valuable contribution made by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours. I am so glad that he is here with us in this House. I never thought that we would see him here--that is not a reflection on his health--but I am delighted that he is.
I agree entirely with what he said about the need for a Minister for Intelligence. I shall let out one secret: I discussed precisely that proposition with three Members of the present Cabinet in the immediate run-up to the 1997 general election. My advice was not taken--possibly because they thought that I was hawking myself for the job; so perhaps their wisdom was greater than it might appear. It is absolutely impossible for the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister to have time to take care of those services and invigilate them properly. That is absurd. What is more, my information is that the services themselves would welcome such ministerial control, because it would give them a higher profile in government and greater regular access to Cabinet Ministers.
I disagree with my noble friend on one point about the reporting methods of the Committee on Intelligence and Security. I originally agreed with him that it ought to be a Select Committee reporting to the House. As my noble friend knows, I served on the committee for a couple of years during the Parliament when it was set up by Mr Major. I am convinced that the present arrangements are preferable.
When I was a member of the committee, we used to meet regularly--although not frequently--face-to-face with the Prime Minister and could raise any subject that we liked with him across the table in No. 10. As far as I know, that privilege is not given to any Select Committee of the other place. There is no problem about reporting to the House because the Prime Minister is under a statutory duty to transmit the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee to the House of Commons--after, of course, making provision for any sidelining that he thinks appropriate.
However, there is something that this House ought to do about the matter. It is absurd that we have that committee set up by a statute that says that it must have at least one member from each House. Eight members of the committee are from the House of Commons--worthy people, but some of them with a rather tenuous connection with the fields of defence, security and intelligence. There is only one member from this House--my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell.
The House of Commons also has the benefit of a Defence Committee consisting of nine members which receives regular briefings on classified matters. It has a Foreign Affairs Committee which, from time to time, receives briefings on classified matters. This House has no committees whatever of which I am aware that at any time receive briefings on classified matters. It is absurd that we make no use whatever on a day-to-day basis of the talents that exist in this place on the Cross-Benches, I am delighted to see a new recruit on the Liberal Benches in the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, and on the Conservative Benches as well. That is a ridiculous situation.
I hope that the Government will understand that a well-informed committee is supportive of the work of the department and agencies that it scrutinises. A sensible Secretary of State, one with any self-confidence at all, will welcome a committee doing part of his work for him in scrutinising his department and making helpful recommendations. I have said before that I see no reason that this House, like the Senate in the United States, should be inhibited from having the same committees here as exist at the other end of the corridor.
I hope that my noble friend will be able to say that at the very least he will initiate discussions on these matters with the Opposition. He and I had a discussion before the Recess--I hope he will not mind my disclosing this--on these matters. I was asking whether he could find some way to extend the amount of classified briefing coming to Members of this House. My noble friend was extremely helpful and said that he would like to talk about the matter. When I had a job at the Ministry of Defence I did my little bit to brief Members who had a serious interest in defence matters, within the range of secrecy. I hope that the Government will be able to initiate discussions with the other parties so that at this time this House can play a much more vigorous and useful role in supporting the Government and also in reinforcing public morale.
My Lords, the Prime Minister has lent an overtone of hope and lofty aspiration to the mood of grim determination to fight and win an existential struggle. The need for a wide-ranging coalition in the first phase of what President Bush warned may be a five or even a 10-year war, is unarguable; indeed it is essential. But realpolitik must not too crassly turn into surrealpolitik.
Some of today's rogue states cannot change overnight into guardians of international order, nor can select terrorist organisations be upgraded to freedom fighters. The bombs and bullets of Hamas, Hezbollah, jihad or DPFLP aimed at civilians by suicidal fanatics cannot suddenly obtain a higher moral rating that those fired by the Al'Qaeda and its associated gangs.
It has been understood that in the interests of the cause Israel should not be a formal member of the alliance, and its government have undertaken, as they did before in the Gulf war when it sustained the onslaught of 39 Iraqi Scud missiles, not to retaliate. At that time Prime Minister Shamir exercised utmost restraint, and I happen to believe that Prime Minister Sharon will also hold back. But this is now the point at which we should firmly face the underlying verities of this war against enemies visible or invisible.
Causes of war, war aims and the final outcome are equally important elements of historical equation. Obscurantism at the beginning colours the course and tends to threaten the end of a great enterprise. The causes of this war lie back generations ago in the merciless and bitter fight of an unholy alliance ranging from atheist revolutionaries, mercenaries and organised criminals to religious and racist fanatics. Their common enemy is the open society, liberal order and western-style democracy. True idealists might mingle with cynical opportunists and barbarous fanatics, intermittently rallying together or feuding between each other.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very important issue, but it is not the root cause of this war. It may serve as a symbol for rage and thirst for revenge on the part of humiliated Arabs and Muslims against the United States and the West, but it is also a lightning rod--an outlet for feudal and despotic regimes in the Arab world who are striving to deflect the bitterness of the oppressed masses away from themselves.
We know that Osama bin Laden's foremost aim is the deliverance of the whole of Araby from what he perceives as the corrupt, inept and depraved Saudi monarchy, lording it over Mecca and Medina. He hates them as much as--possibly more than--he hates Israel or world Jewry. Even if, by some miracle, the whole of Israel were to vanish into space, the terror groups now operating out of Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan would not lay down their arms. They would still fight with great gusto against the West, and possibly also against each other.
The leaders of the alliance, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, hope that, if only we could mediate between Israelis and Palestinians without bile or bias and seize this moment before an unpredictable sequence of violence causes irreparable harm, the present crisis could yield an historic dividend. It has already done so elsewhere, with the remarkable and wholly welcome rapprochement with Putin's Russia--a country similarly beset by a tragedy caused by terrorism in its Caucasian enclaves.
The Mitchell report must be implemented, but the intifada must stop, for it relies on terrorism and carries a negative dynamic away from peace and reason. Israel's reaction--often over-reaction--to attacks on innocent civilians, as distinct from military objectives, has attracted great criticism, but, I submit in all diffidence, there cannot be a moral equivalence between those who aim deliberately at maximising casualties among non-combatants, preferably amassed in large numbers in public places, and those who defend themselves, even if sometimes disproportionately.
The basic Israeli argument is that under Prime Minister Barak they tried to offer terms that were widely regarded by the international community as eminently worthy of acceptance by the Palestinians. Chairman Arafat's refusal, in conjunction with the dismissive reaction of the late President Assad to the proposed return of the Golan Heights, created a feeling throughout the Israeli nation that here was an enemy no longer intent on peace through negotiation and compromise. It was an enemy who to the outside world endorses a negotiated peace but to its own constituency vows to stand for the ultimate liquidation of the Zionist entity.
This is no longer a question of borders, schedules of withdrawal or economic clauses. We face a terrible morass of fear, suspicion and stark pessimism. Lifelong pacifists and advocates of Israeli-Arab or Jewish-Muslim co-operation and acculturation have now turned into bitter and disillusioned peace sceptics. The Israeli psyche is no less disturbed than the Arab psyche. Confidence-building measures are absent. When the Israeli army withdrew from Lebanon, Hezbollah intensified its attacks and saw it not as a gesture of conciliation but as a sign of creeping enfeeblement.
Many of those who, like me, would wish to evacuate the isolated settlements in the Gaza area and on the West Bank feel that the time is not right and that such a move would be interpreted as the first step towards total capitulation. The absurd rumours about Jewish responsibility for the New York massacre are mindlessly repeated even by responsible Arab leaders. It is the state of mind among some of Israel's neighbours--minds filled with propaganda, systematic misinformation and incitement to hate and violence in school books and learning materials--that is so alarming. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, mention that important subject.
Thanks to the intervention of the European Union, some progress is being made on compiling new textbooks for territories under the Palestinian authority, yet most of the old and poisonous books, largely paid for by UNWRA or Brussels, are still in circulation. Even worse literature is current in Syrian schools. I recently asked the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, to look into Syrian school books for the fourth to the 11th grade which incite racial hatred and perpetual war, glorify suicide attacks and threaten destruction, not only of Israel but of the whole Jewish world community. I have sent specimens to the Foreign Office and eagerly hope that they will receive attention and lead to positive action. I am stressing that point because as we enter into an unchartable war against evil we must strike at the root. In the Middle Eastern countries nearly two-thirds of all inhabitants are under 18 years of age. That means that there are at least 120 million or more young people who for two generations have been brought up with a mindset which is completely hostile to compassionate understanding of the other side and bent on violent revenge.
The establishment of a Palestinian state is now almost nowhere questioned, but security remains, even more than before, the order of the day. Yasser Arafat remains the only valid interlocutor on the Palestinian side. Prime Minister Sharon and Shimon Peres are an indispensable team. Sharon has 80 per cent of the nation on his side. Peres is respected as a man of peace throughout the world. They both trust the goodwill of the president of the United States, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Chancellor of Germany as the three most honourable mediators in the West, but they also fear, rightly or wrongly, old enemies rising to the surface in Europe as well as in the wider world, bent on a long-held resolve to erode and destroy the state of Israel and at first try to achieve a Middle Eastern Munich-style settlement. They must be warned that while the present, or indeed the future, government of Israel may be ready to make great sacrifices, no Israeli leadership will ever preside over collective self-immolation in a wildfire caused by fanatical foes.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, I witnessed the tragedy of 11th September in New York and count acquaintances, even friends, among those atomised in the rubble of the World Trade Centre. I also sampled the mood and feelings of the American people. Let there be no doubt that the thousands of parents, spouses and friends of the victims of terror will not wish to share the patience of the kith and kin of the Lockerbie martyrs. They will want to see tangible punishment of the perpetrators and--I stress this point--those who have sheltered and succoured them.
If the war aims so inspiringly proclaimed by the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister can be achieved, it will have to mean that in the course of the conflict systemic changes in countries ruled by cynical tyrants must occur, through evolution and implosion in preference to bloody revolution and invasion. Still, how can we here tolerate regimes which in defiance of the international community continue to build arsenals of weapons of mass destruction? Will we have a ready answer if those tyrants employ their armoury as bargaining chips for blackmail or indeed for practical use?
If we have clarity of purpose and a robust will to persevere, we may free the world not only from the worst excesses of terrorism, but also bring freedom and prosperity to the downtrodden masses misruled and degraded by self-serving despots. But, as the American President and the British Prime Minister have made so abundantly clear, there is no half-way house between victory and abysmal failure. I believe that that victory can be achieved only if we aim at both the head and limbs of a worldwide monster, refuse to waver and show no mercy.
My Lords, I find myself speaking in the gap due to an administrative error which left me off the Speakers' List. But I will follow the traditions of the gap and speak for a very short period.
I wish to make three points. I place on record my thanks and, I suspect, the thanks of the whole House, for the care and attention which the Prime Minister and his wife have shown to the relatives of those feared dead. When the House met on 14th September I thanked the emergency telephone services on that occasion as I had used them. My son-in-law, Peter, was best man to Simon Turner who is feared dead. His wife, Liz, in London is seven and a half months pregnant so she could not travel to New York. Peter went on her behalf and I have to record that he received outstanding support from our consular services in New York and from everyone else involved.
For those of us who watched the church service of remembrance at St. Thomas' Episcopal, it was a moving event. Even more moving, Peter reported, was the time that the Prime Minister and his wife spent with the relatives and those representing relatives in the room at the side afterwards, along with Kofi Annan and the Mayor of New York.
I also record my thanks to those companies that have gone the extra yard. I can think of a number of companies with employees feared dead, and to the best of my knowledge, every one has shown generosity in looking after their kith and kin. I might also add, as an aside, a thank you to my youngest son who spotted that according to the Sun all our nationals were dead. He rang the editor and pointed out that they were feared dead. A correction appeared the next morning.
I know Pakistan reasonably well. I learnt to fly there. At that time, which is some time ago, I knew the border areas of Peshawar and Quetta quite well. It is a forbidding and very difficult part of the globe. It is desperately hard to control one way or the other--out or in. However hard we try, we should not forget that the Pakistan Government are a fragile ally, not because they wish to be so, but because of the nature of the Government and the situation that they face. My noble friend Lord Desai made some relevant points about that.
I refer again, as I did on the previous occasion, to the Tamil Tigers, known as the LTTE terrorists from Sri Lanka. They are the masters of suicide in the world today. They learnt their art from Hezbollah, and it is now reported from reliable sources in India that the LTTE is training some of the Al'Qaeda units in Afghanistan.
Returning to London, it is thought that there may be as many as 20,000 illegal immigrants from the Tamil community, many of whom sadly have links with the LTTE. They run petrol stations in London and are involved in extortion, drugs and money-changing rackets. The Government are right to investigate the money-changing boutiques and all the other sources of moving money around. But they must recognise that they must not confine their investigations only to Arab front organisations. I applaud what they have done so far and their announcement of new laws to deal with terrorists. Asian and Arab terrorists--indeed, all terrorists--have enormous patience, great cunning, great skill and, on the surface, incredible plausibility. We must be on our guard. We must be equally patient, very thorough and a little creative in rooting out the financial mechanisms that fuel terrorism. The tap of funding must be turned off.
My Lords, I shall make my first winding-up speech, in which I am standing in for my noble friend Lord Avebury. He had an accident on his bicycle on the way to the House this morning. Although he completed the journey, he was in severe pain, went to hospital, was detained there for some hours, and has now been released and has gone home.
We have had a sober debate, and even a sombre one. There has been little disagreement. Indeed, there is wide support for the Government's action and wide recognition that the terrorists of 11th September were not representative of the Muslim community. There has been wide recognition of the desperate position of the Afghan people and the need to provide relief. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, pointed out the importance of not destroying the infrastructure as far as it still exists. It was agreed that it was not for the coalition to try to impose its own choice of new government for the Afghan people.
Three weeks ago our debate took place in the immediate aftermath of the murder of 7,000 in the USA. Today we have the opportunity of a more reflective debate. I am afraid that there is no reason to believe that there will be no further attempts by terrorists, some of which will succeed. It seems likely that one has succeeded today with the crash of an El-Al aeroplane into the Black Sea.
It is good that the USA has shown unexpected patience, restraint and a recognition of the need to apply force in a targeted and proportionate way. What is less good is that the passage of time makes it ever more obvious that there is no easy solution. We are not dealing with people with whom we can talk and reach a compromise agreement. Indeed, we may well be facing a hydra-headed monster and if we cut off Osama bin Laden and Al'Qaeda we may be faced with other organisations equally dangerous and equally malevolent.
It has been a long debate and therefore I want to touch only on a few contributions. We have had four distinguished contributions by maiden speakers. I mention a few of the others because the points they made were outside the mainstream of debate. My noble friend Lord Ashdown displayed a knowledge of Afghan geography, history and tribal politics matched only by that of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. Indeed, I was a little surprised at my noble friend's knowledge because I thought he was in the Special Boat Service and I did not think that Afghanistan was much of a country for boats. But he made the correct point that the Afghans are not fundamentalists and that the terrorists in their midst are foreigners.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford gave us a serious warning that needs to be heeded about the dangers of closed windows and of the grave hostility of the Muslim population in Bradford. The noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, were the real voices here of the Muslim community and they spoke with firmness and with good sense.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell, and my noble friend Lord Ezra warned us of the danger to energy supplies; oil in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, and gas in the case of my noble friend Lord Ezra. Those are potentially serious consequences which may not be immediately obvious but which plainly exist and present a threat to our economies that is far more serious than those serious ones that have already occurred.
My noble friend Lord Alderdice gave a powerful and almost apocalyptic speech about the nature of terrorism. He said that it was not a matter of poverty but of belief. We heard alternative views from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who emphasised his belief that it was a matter of poverty, and from the noble Lord, Lord Desai, who spoke of ethnic nationalism. I believe that my noble friend Lord Alderdice is right as regards the leaders, but it is also true that leaders can succeed only if the soil is ripe for them to do so, and that requires a discontented population among whom they live. Otherwise, like the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany, where the soil was poor for them, they simply fizzle out. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, presented a powerful analysis and a very interesting and important four-point plan as regards a solution to the problem we now face.
My father was born and brought up on the island of Manhattan. I have many friends and family members who live in New York; fortunately none of them was a victim. I regard New York as my second home city and I always have a sense of thrill when I drive into New York from JFK, cross the Triboro' Bridge and see the magical skyline of Manhattan.
Those who bear the responsibility for this atrocity or have assisted must be hunted down and brought to justice. Nothing, but nothing, justifies what they have done. As one commentator said, they have been attacking the best of the USA not the worst of it. They have been attacking the energy and enthusiasm which makes the USA the powerhouse of the world economy. As the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, said, James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, told us that those who will suffer most from the economic consequences of the attack will be the people in the poorest parts of the developing world.
I am also a strong defender of human rights and that is what I want to concentrate on for the rest of my speech. I see no conflict between the effective punishment and prevention of terrorism and the protection of human rights in this country. I disagree with those who call for the modification or the limitation of the Human Rights Act. That Act and the European Convention on Human Rights contain their own mechanisms for dealing with crises such as those we now face. Several of the convention rights may be subject to restrictions which are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Rights which may be subject to such restrictions include, under Article 8 of the convention, the right to respect for private and family life; under Article 10, the right to freedom of expression under Article 10; and, under Article 11, the right to freedom of assembly and association. Furthermore, under Article 15, there is a right of derogation. It states:
"In time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation any High Contracting party may take measures derogating from its obligations under the Convention to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with its other obligations under international law".
There is no doubt, on the basis of existing decisions on the interpretation of Article 15, that we are now facing a public emergency threatening the life of the nation. There are some provisions from which no derogation can be made. One is Article 3 of the convention. That prohibits torture or cruel or inhuman treatment. I believe and expect that the Government would not wish to contravene Article 3.
Within that framework, and taking into account the power of derogation, I believe that the Government can make all the changes of law which they reasonably could need to make to meet the situation that has now arisen.
There has been a discussion about ID cards. Some noble Lords have called for them, notably the noble Lords, Lord Campbell-Savours and Lord Davies of Coity. Others, including my noble friend Lord Phillips, have rejected the idea of ID cards. It is clear that no immediate decision will be taken. They will not be included in the first tranche of legislation. There will be a consultation paper and in due course we shall have a proper opportunity to consider the merits and demerits of ID cards. Our position is that we shall need to be persuaded that ID cards will serve a useful purpose before we can agree to that proposal.
We strongly welcome, as a number of noble Lords have already indicated, the strengthening of laws against money laundering. We welcome the extension of laws against incitement to race hatred and to religious hatred. Indeed, previously we have argued that it should be extended to all hate crimes.
We see no problems about requiring air and sea carriers to give copies of their passenger lists to the police. There are problems with our present extradition laws which were shown up in the Pinochet case. There is no doubt that our extradition law needs simplification. Where that law can be simplified without undermining the necessary protection of the individuals who are threatened with extradition, we shall support it.
We see some problems with the automatic rejection of asylum to people with convictions for terrorism or suspected terrorism. The Geneva Convention on Refugees gives a right for those with a well-founded fear of persecution in their own country to claim asylum. The European Convention on Human Rights contains no right of asylum as such. However, deportation to a country in which the deportee would be likely to suffer torture or cruel or inhuman treatment has been held to be a breach of Article 3. Any change in the right of asylum must not, we believe, therefore contain a power to deport an asylum seeker to a country where there is a likelihood that he will suffer persecution, torture, or cruel or inhuman treatment.
It may well be, however, that we should consider giving the United Kingdom courts a wider power to try charges of terrorist crimes against anyone found in this country, wherever that crime was committed. There is universal jurisdiction in the Prevention of Terrorism Acts but that applies only to offences of bombing or chemical or biological warfare. There may be a good case for widening that provision, to give UK courts jurisdiction over all terrorist-linked offences.
"British democracy was not created by lawyers or judges. It was created through the struggle and the political engagement of the people".
That is true but democracy is preserved and underpinned by the rule of law--and the rule of law is enforced by the judiciary. Judges have an essential part in the enforcement of the rule of law.
The Home Secretary appears to be trying to water down the right of judicial review. The fact that there is a crisis does not prevent a Minister from taking a decision that is ultra vires, in breach of natural justice or irrational. Ministers' decisions should continue to be subject to judicial review. In times of crisis, it is at least as important as in times of calm and peace for there to be a right to judicial review.
The Roman poet Virgil wrote--I shall quote him in English translation rather than in Latin:
"Amid clash of arms, laws are silent".
That must not be said of this country. Amid the clash of arms in this country, the laws must not be silent. I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor--who was the sponsor of the Human Rights Act, is now its protector through his department and is head of the judiciary--will fight to ensure that any new legislation is compatible with that Act and that the rule of law is not overriden. Those matters will have to be looked at in more detail when the legislation comes before us.
In closing, I do not wish to give any impression that we are hostile to what the Government have done and are doing. The Government's policy of international action against terrorism has our full support.
My Lords, I admit that I approach my task this evening with a deep sense of humility. I have listened throughout the day to many speeches by those who clearly have a deep understanding of, and expertise in, matters related to the subject under debate whereas I profess no specific expertise whatsoever and feel somewhat inadequate for the task before me.
I was in the south of France on 11th September, enjoying what I thought was a well-earned rest. In the middle of the afternoon, my daughter came on the phone and said, "Dad, have you got your television on?" I thought that was a strange question. I said no. My daughter said, "Put it on. Terrorists are attacking New York". There before us, in all its ghastly horror--all the more poignant for the beautiful scenery outside the window--was a monstrous attack in full view, for us all to see. That coverage on French television of a horrific and developing situation was available for 72 hours. I mention that because if such coverage was available in France, those events would almost certainly have been seen in every country of the world. One of the impacts of that amazing piece of modern technology which occasionally gives one frightening insights into what is happening in the world is that exposure to that horrible event by everyone everywhere brings the realisation to all national communities that they are vulnerable to acts of that kind.
Therefore, it is with considerable pleasure that one is able to offer the absolute support of our party to both the President of the United States and, indeed, the Prime Minister of this country for the tremendous work that they have been doing since that time. I hope that it will not be misunderstood if I say that we must use the horror from that dreadful event to build a world-wide alliance to try to counter the menace which has appeared within our midst. We need to appreciate that what has appeared within our midst is just that.
As a novice I am capable of misinterpretation. However, If I understand the security situation correctly we have to assume that cells of these terrorists are likely to be within our own communities now. That is not a comfortable thought. I shall not grace such terrorists with a religious connotation. I am not an historian but my view of history is clear; that is, that groups of people over the centuries and millennia have corrupted religious purposes for their own means and ends.
We need also to be aware of the dreadful economic impact which that single event may have. The noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, and my noble friend Lady Cox touched on that point. The world's economy was already slowing. It is estimated that this event will slow it further and that that could mean that an additional 10 million people, probably largely in Africa, could fall below the poverty line. I do not refer to the rather rich and soft poverty line that we discuss in this country in relation to our affairs, which I believe is 50 per cent of the national minimum wage, or some such figure. We are talking of an income of a dollar a day. That is a harsh existence indeed.
Therefore, that is a matter which should concentrate the minds, not only of ourselves but of countries across the world. For the sake of all the less well-off people in the world, we cannot afford to have such an event repeated. That is the fundamental lesson that we need to learn.
I have not been able to ascertain whether it was the President of the United States or our Prime Minister who first used the phrase, "A war on terrorism". That is a difficult concept. It is certainly not a war in any conventional sense. It will be a war of intelligence. There may be very limited military action but I cannot see much scope for the military in the longer term, although there may be some short-term activity simply to deal with the immediate situation of a particular bundle of terrorists in a particular country.
What will be much more significant over time is that this will be a war of legislation, of justice, of bringing people to court; it will be a war of intelligence. As has been said by many Members, it will be also a war of politics. There have been many speeches reminding us that if you cannot win the hearts and minds of men then you cannot win. Therefore it will be a battle for hearts and minds.
As far as concerns the immediate effects in this country, we will of course require to look now at our own legal structures. I am not an expert on that. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, made such an expert resume of the laws that will be immediately looked at and those which have been promised, either through the Labour Party conference last week or subsequently through the press, it would be pointless for me to go over the detail of those laws. The detail will be revealed when we get a legislative package before Parliament in the near future, but it seems to me that there are perhaps one or two questions I should invite the Minister to consider about that package.
If we are to win this war of politics--and other countries will face the same problem--we have to carry with us all the British people. The British people are aware that they are involved in a war and are ready to accept, if necessary, some sacrifice of their human rights in order to win it. But if this is a war and we hope to win it, then it is a temporary situation. Therefore I suggest that the laws we bring in should be temporary, to at least the extent that they have provisions within them for a regular review to ensure that it is still necessary for them to continue on the statute book; a kind of rolling sunset clause. I ask for an assurance that the Government will consider this in the Bills that they bring forward.
It would be interesting to know whether we will be seeing legislation which consists of free-standing Bills in their own right or we will simply be amending existing legislation. Finally, it would help all of us if we knew the timescale in which these proposals may be brought forward.
For our part, we have offered our backing for the Government in what they wish to do. However, it must be said that the backing is not completely unconditional. Everyone in this Chamber has sufficient experience to know that no government is a complete repository of all correctness, rectitude and knowledge, and it may be that there will be occasions when we need to dissent on points of detail--it would be remarkable if anyone expected us to do anything else.
But, that said, the strategy is clear. The British people will expect their Government to take proper steps to secure their safety and render those who would endanger it impotent. We offer our full support for that fight. If Britain and all like-minded countries act together it seems to me that in the long run it is likely that the world will become a safer place. That outcome, if we can bring it about, would be the last result that those who perpetrated that dreadful act on 11th September expected. It would be supremely worth achieving.
My Lords, I start by thanking all noble Lords who have spoken in the debate. I nearly always agree with what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, says but when he said that all we had had were two short debates I had to disagree with regard to today's debate. If the noble Lord considers that this is a short debate, I should hate to think what he considers a long one. However, more seriously, as I say, I thank those who took part in the debate. I wish to make a couple of preliminary points in that regard.
First, on behalf of the House, I wish the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, well. He made it to the House, which was bravery in itself. We hope that he will be back in his place soon. I should not let the moment pass without congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, on his first appearance on the Front Bench opposite in a new guise. His speech was interesting and full of good points that we took on board. I congratulate him on his new post.
I should also thank and congratulate the four maiden speakers tonight. All four of them, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, and the noble Lords, Lord Campbell-Savours, Lord Temple-Morris and Lord Ouseley, spoke with huge experience and expertise. I tried to add up the number of years that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, and the noble Lords, Lord Campbell-Savours and Lord Temple-Morris, had spent in another place. I could not calculate the total for the three of them, but it must be close to 100 years. All three have tremendous experience of the other place and of government. Their remarks were challenging and of great value. We look forward to hearing all three of them speak again. The noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, does not have previous experience of Parliament but he has enormous experience in the race relations and other fields where he has performed admirably for many years. We look forward to him playing an important part in our debates.
In order that noble Lords may not be too scared I should say that I do not intend for a moment to attempt to answer all or even most of the questions that were put. I do not intend to answer them orally. Many of the questions that were asked by, for example, the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, my noble friend Lord Turnberg and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, to mention just four, were important. It would be foolish to try to answer them at this time of night. I shall write to them in the normal way.
A little over three weeks ago we all witnessed the appalling act of terrorism where four civilian airliners became flying bombs in the hands of quite brutal and ruthless men. As we know, three of them crashed into their targets in New York and Washington but the fourth came down in a field in Pennsylvania after some of the hostages, with true heroism, fought back and almost certainly, as has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, who was not far away in Washington at the time, they saved the lives of many more innocent human beings and in doing so, of course, sacrificed their own lives. If that is not a good example of true heroism I do not know what is.
It was not just America's tragedy; it represented one of the worst losses of British lives since World War II. That, together with our strong historical and enduring friendship with the United States--our closest ally--means that we have an obligation to play a leading role in responding to these appalling acts. So we now share the resolve and determination both to ensure that such events should not be allowed to occur again and that those responsible for them should be brought to account. No one in this House is in any doubt that we are fully committed to those goals.
The lack of any immediate response by the United States should not be taken by this House or by the world to indicate that there is any lack of resolve. This is a complex crisis and we are confronting a dangerous and ruthless enemy, closely linked, as we have heard today, to organised crime, to illegal arms trafficking, to money laundering on a large scale and to the movement of illicit and lethal drugs. That does not lend itself to quick or simple solutions and it would be grossly irresponsible to suggest that such options exist. It would be equally irresponsible to suggest that a narrow military action would be appropriate.
A proportionate and measured response takes time. The House has already paid due tribute to the restrained, dignified and responsible way in which the American Administration and its people have acted since 11th September.
The attacks on America have brought home once again the degree of mutual dependency in today's world. The global community must now turn that unity to its advantage and as a force for good. That means that the machinery of terror must be destroyed and greater understanding must be fostered between nations and faiths. It means further working together to tackle injustice and poverty. In all those issues, our national self-interest is inextricably linked with the mutual interests of countries around the world. They are one and the same.
Our own response to the events of a few weeks ago is being taken forward on a number of interrelated fronts: diplomacy and intelligence, as well as economic and military assets, will all have a vital role to play. Earlier my noble friend Lady Symons spoke of our role in building international co-operation for the fight against terrorism in partnership with the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and many countries around the world. The House has been generous in its praise from all sides in regard to the Prime Minister's leading role in forming this coalition. That is credit well given. The Prime Minister has been tireless in his efforts to build international support and to establish a broad international coalition.
One of the most striking developments over the past three weeks has been the way in which countries that have had their conflicts, wars both ancient and modern, have now come together to support joint action against this common evil. These include Arab leaders and those from other Muslim countries who understand that this is an argument with terrorism and not with Islam. The point is that these acts represent an appalling violation of the true values and humane ideals of Islam. It is a point which cannot be made strongly enough or often enough. I think that we were fortunate to hear in today's debate my noble friends Lord Ahmed and Lady Uddin make that point as strongly as it is possible to do.
Here at home, many people are deeply concerned about the prospect of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom; in particular, the spectre of attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, especially chemical or biological agents, looms large. Of course we must always take such threats extremely seriously. Any responsible government would do so. But I wish to emphasise to the House once again that there is no evidence of a specific threat against this country. It is important that people should remain vigilant, just as they did when responding to the threat from Irish terrorism. However, there is no reason why people should not carry on their daily business as normal. Indeed, there is every reason why they should.
The possibility of such attacks has existed for many years. For more than a decade we know, for example, that the Iraqi regime was prepared to use chemical weapons against its own citizens. Saddam Hussein's immediate response to the events of 11th September did no more than remind us once again of his total disregard for all human life other than his own. The House will recall--it has been referred to already--that the ruthless and indiscriminate nature of mass terrorism was demonstrated when sarin gas was released in the Tokyo metro six years ago in March 1995.
I can tell the House that cross-government contingency plans are in place to deal with these threats. I shall not comment on the details of our plans, but they are wide-ranging and are exercised regularly. The police, fire brigade and ambulance services stand in the front line of the fight against terrorism, just as they did so bravely in New York. The health service would be responsible for managing the results of any attack. Local government would have an important role in marshalling resources. All the agencies would work together to ensure that we are as ready as we can be to face any threats.
Industry, too, has an important part to play. We should not overlook the prompt action taken by the airline industry to enhance the security of aircraft and passengers. They are not alone in their response. Increasingly the greater awareness of the threat of terrorism produced by these events is turning not to fear but to action to ensure that vital infrastructure and services are protected. The Government's review of airport security is wide-ranging and is being conducted in full consultation with the United States authorities.
Noble Lords asked questions about the aviation industry. In the light of the severe repercussions for the global aviation industry, governments may well be asked to provide financial or other assistance to help airlines to cope with the crisis. We are monitoring that situation closely to ensure that any assistance offered does not place UK airlines at a competitive disadvantage.
Just as important is the determination of every citizen not to be intimidated by the ruthless acts of the terrorist. As has been said in this debate, the greatest victory that we could give to our enemies would be to allow our way of life to be undermined by terrorism. This House has shown today that it believes that we are and will remain a democratic, free and diverse country, not divided by race or creed.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford made three specific suggestions in relation to his proud city. The right reverend Prelate's personal commitment and work for inter-faith understanding is a matter of public record and admiration. Of course, the Government will consider his imaginative suggestions sympathetically. I or my noble friend Lady Symons will write to him soon.
When the Cold War ended 12 years or so ago, we recognised what that represented. It was a revolution in the nature of international affairs. We no longer face that immediate threat of world war and the possibility of massive nuclear destruction. We knew that the future threats to international stability were likely to come from ethnic and religious conflicts, population and environmental pressures, competition for scarce resources, drugs, crime and, of course, terrorism.
Here in this country we accepted that the world had changed and that we needed to change as well. That assumption formed the basis of this Government's Strategic Defence Review, designed to ensure that our Armed Forces were restructured and re-equipped to operate and succeed in this quite new and challenging environment. We believe that events thus far have shown that we were right. The past decade has witnessed terrible ethnic conflicts, particularly in the Balkans. We have seen vicious internal conflict in Sierra Leone, for example, driven by competition to control the diamond fields, and in East Timor.
The process of implementing the defence review is still under way. We shall, of course, scrutinise recent events very closely to see whether lessons are to be learnt there. However, since we are already seeing the fruits from the Strategic Defence Review, we do not at present envisage the need for a further major defence review.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell, properly asked about the purpose and extent of any defence review. The best way in which I can answer him is to refer to the comments of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence, who said on Tuesday that we should be looking again at how we organise our defence. He said that this will not be a new strategic defence review but an opportunity if necessary to rebalance our existing efforts. He also said that we must have the right concepts, the right forces and the right capabilities to meet the additional challenges that we face from international terrorism conducted on this scale.
Some 2,000 British troops are, as we speak, returning from Macedonia, where, as part of Task Force Harvest, they have successfully completed their difficult mission to collect weapons from the National Liberation Army. Of course we wait for the final completion of the ongoing constitutional process in the Macedonian Parliament, but already that country looks to be more stable and peaceful than it did earlier this summer. That is a great credit to our British troops. Again, the Government were grateful for the support that we received from the Opposition parties for that expedition.
We believe that acting in this manner, sometimes in concert with our allies and sometimes by our own independent efforts, has materially added to the stability and prosperity of the international community. It is that sense of common values, common goals, and common action that the terrorists are seeking to challenge and destroy. We are now faced with a new and dangerous situation. While we accept that our response must be made up from a diverse range of efforts acting together, there is a high likelihood of it involving military action by UK Armed Forces acting in concert with our allies and our American friends.
As the Prime Minister has emphasised, any such action will be proportionate. It will be carefully targeted at the military infrastructure of bin Laden's terrorists and at the military hardware, funding and support of the Taliban regime that harbours and--this expression will be familiar to lawyers--aids and abets them. The Prime Minister made it clear that we will do what we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties and that the humanitarian response must be every bit as well planned and as thorough as the military response.
Of course we understand the need to ensure that our efforts against terrorism are correctly targeted. However, there is compelling and incontrovertible evidence of the involvement of Osama bin Laden. The trail to bin Laden leads unambiguously back to Afghanistan and the Taliban regime. Two UN Security Council resolutions require the Taliban to hand over bin Laden. There can be no negotiation about that. The first and most immediate priority is to bring him and his associates to account. We call, even at this late hour, on the Taliban to comply with the will of the UN and the whole international community. Otherwise, the regime must be prepared to face the consequences.
Those responsible for the acts of 11th September are not people who can be reasoned with. They are cold-blooded fanatics who despise dialogue and democratic procedures as signs of weakness and decay. I take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, in particular, for his illuminating speech. He has deep experience of the evil of terrorism. Those people have proved beyond all doubt that human life means precisely nothing to them. Lives--even their own--are expendable and they are willing to use innocent people as bombs. That is why we must accept the need to act with absolute firmness and not fall prey to the delusion that the threat can simply be talked away.
As noble Lords know very well--it is often said in this House--the United Kingdom is privileged to have the finest Armed Forces in the world. It so happens--noble Lords also know this--that we have some 20,000 members of our Armed Forces already in the Gulf region as part of exercise Saif Sareea 2, which is our long-planned joint exercise with Oman. That effort includes the "Illustrious" carrier group, 3 Commando Brigade, five squadrons of Challenger II tanks, some 50 fast jet aircraft and many other force elements. They are demonstrating our support for our friends in the Gulf as well as honing their operational skills. However, they are also available for other contingencies, should they be required.
The Taliban will be alive to the real potential of that powerful force. Its mere presence--and that of the build-up of a powerful US force in the Gulf region--will have sent a clear message to the Taliban about our capabilities. There are signs that the firm international response is already having an effect. Dissent, disputes and disharmony are surfacing within the regime as the pressure of international isolation bears down.
However, it is worth repeating--as has been said in this debate--that the people of Afghanistan are of course not our enemy. They, too, are the victims of the Taliban. Years of war, famine and neglect have reduced them to the state of desperation so well described by noble Lords today. We must also mobilise against that evil. That is why, in addition to building the international coalition against terrorism, we are leading international action to address the growing humanitarian crisis faced by the Afghan people. We have provided £36 million extra in support since 11th September on top of the £35 million provided since 1997. As the House knows, the first shipment of 400 tents arrived in Iran yesterday and more are on their way.
Moreover, the belief that terrorism can be defeated only by armed force is as wrong as the belief that it can be defeated without ever using military force. Terrorists indulge in criminal acts and we must have the legal framework in place to deal with them and their crimes. Earlier this week, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out the new measures that we intend to take to ensure that no bank or financial institution, national or international, will be able to offer a hiding place for terrorist money without fear of prosecution.
Much discussion has taken place today about measures that may be taken by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary to deal with terrorism. I take this opportunity to thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, for his contribution today. It was a masterful speech setting out his experience over many years of reporting and assisting the Government to get the Terrorism Act 2000 about right. His compliment to the Act is of great importance to us; we think that we got it right and we want to ensure that it is actually working to deal with the present threat.
Many noble Lords are concerned that we may not have been tough enough on those who, it could be argued, abuse our hospitality. They may well be right, and we are at present carefully considering what steps may be appropriate, but we will always bear in mind the fundamental liberties that are so important to the British people. The biggest and most fundamental of all freedoms is the freedom to live in peace and without fear--something that may, perhaps, have been a little forgotten during the course of the past 20 or 25 years.
The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, properly asked some questions about the legislation; I shall briefly try to answer him. Will the legislation be new or amending? Some will involve amendments; some will be new. When will it appear? At present, we believe in early November, but that is yet to be finalised. He will not be surprised to hear that my answer to his third question about sunset clauses is that no decisions have yet been reached.
I shall not go into any more detail about that legislation. It will come before the House in the normal way and, no doubt, the House will consider it with its usual critical faculties fully at work. But these are special times and it is important that the House bears that in mind when considering these matters.
The evil of international terrorism urgently needs to be confronted and defeated. If there was any doubt of that prior to 11th September, there cannot be any now. We need to confront it together because it potentially threatens us all. As has been said, it will not be quick and it will not be easy. But this country is determined to play a leading role in that response. Let me assure the House that the Government are working endlessly and hard both nationally and internationally to that end. In doing so, we will take the necessary action to protect our people and our interests both at home and abroad.