London: Terrorist Attacks

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 20th July 2005.

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Photo of Lord Dholakia Lord Dholakia Deputy Leader, House of Lords, Spokesperson in the Lords, Home Affairs 3:45 pm, 20th July 2005

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. I ask her to convey our thanks to the Home Secretary for the constructive approach that he has taken on this issue and for the meeting that he arranged with my honourable friend in the other place, Mark Oaten. My noble friends Lord McNally and Lady Williams are grateful to the Leader of the House for everything that happened yesterday relating to this matter.

I am glad that there will not be a knee-jerk reaction to the problems that we face. Of course, there should be an appropriate and a proportionate response and we are satisfied that that is so in the proposals that have been outlined. To do otherwise would simply mean handing victory to the terrorists. I convey the sympathy and condolences of those on these Benches to those who have suffered tragedies and we thank the police and the emergency services for the way in which they acted.

The Minister knows that we offer our support for the three measures outlined, as we believe that they will make a contribution towards security in this country. That is of paramount importance. The measures on indirect incitement to terrorism will be very difficult to define. I welcome the Home Secretary's commitment to work with all parties in drafting that. I hope that that will include those on the Front Benches in your Lordships' House. Does the Minister agree that the key to this law will be to produce wording that can stand up in court, but that is not so wide in scope that it could be misused?

The Home Secretary knows that we still have differences about control orders and we hope that those can be fully debated in the spring. It would be helpful to know how those orders are working at present. Can the Minister tell the House when she will next report on the number of control orders that have been issued? Does she agree that that cannot wait until Parliament returns in mid-October?

The Home Secretary has said that the intelligence services have the resources that they require, but he will know that it is the local police who are in the front line, and recent events have increased their workload. Is he satisfied that the Metropolitan Police and local police forces covering our major cities have the resources that they need? I understand that the Met has already been promised more money, but what about the others?

Border security has never been more important. Does the Home Secretary now see a case for creating a national border force to replace the current arrangements that leave immigration, Customs and Excise and local police sharing this important task?

At his meeting in Brussels, the Home Secretary began the process of discussing changes to the rules about gaining data from phones and the Internet. What involvement does he see for Parliament in that process?

Finally, it is our firm view that good legislation also needs good debate and scrutiny. The Liberal Democrats will play their part in that process and we shall do so in the belief that all parties should work together on these measures to send the terrorists the strongest possible signal that the parties are committed to democracy and are determined to join together to defeat them. The terrorists must remember that not only the Government, but all the political parties and the citizens of the United Kingdom, are united in their determination to wipe out terrorism from our soil.