Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (Continuance in force of sections 1 to 9) Order 2008

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 27th February 2008.

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Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Security and Counter-terrorism) 9:00 pm, 27th February 2008

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed so powerfully to this debate. I shall try to cover all the points raised. If I do not manage to do so, please come back to me, and I shall try to do so in writing.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that when explosions are not going off and we are successfully stopping attacks, the nation as a whole and people in general tend to forget the threat that exists. That is very British and very commendable in many ways, but, equally, recent convictions of terrorists demonstrate the magnitude and nature of the threat. The chilling brutality of some of the plots that have been unwound during the past seven months—the aspiration to use a dirty bomb, the targeting of large shopping centres, nightclubs and our transport infrastructure, and the attempted kidnap and beheading of a member of our Armed Forces—highlights the severity of the threat that the UK faces. That threat ranges from the possibility of beheading one individual to inflicting mass casualties. I take this opportunity to thank the police, Special Branch, the Security Service and ordinary private citizens for their work in thwarting these plots. I have no doubt that their professionalism and dedication, and what has been achieved even during the past seven months, have saved hundreds—I do not want to exaggerate because it is important not to exaggerate threats—and probably thousands of lives. We have to ensure that they continue to be provided with an across-the-board toolkit to counter the threat.