My Lords, two years ago, I came up to London to speak in the debate in your Lordships’ House about whether this country should bomb Syria. I spoke against. I believe that I was right to do so then because Syria, the potential target of the bombing, seemed to have done nothing against us and was not the kind of threat that might justify such action. I anticipated that many innocent Syrians would be killed. Indeed, some of those whom we actually intended to help have turned out, as a number of us said at the time, to be active enemies of this country.
I believe that the situation is different now. Daesh has taken over large parts of the country, and as its actions have conclusively shown, it is our enemy. In my view, the most recent attack in France is also an attack on us, quite aside from the reports we have had about disrupted attacks directly on this country. As has been said, we, together with our allies, are already engaged in the war—using those words in the layman’s sense—against Daesh in Iraq, and it is simply an accident of geography that parts of Daesh are beyond the general authority given to our military. Geography and jurisdiction are not relevant to terrorism and criminality—something that became quite clear to me during the work I did last year chairing your Lordships’ ad hoc committee on extradition law. I believe that our national response must not be straitjacketed by old-fashioned and outdated views. After all, Daesh pays no attention to them.
What is clear is that not all Syrians are our enemies, although many of them may not like us and, for all I know, we may not like them. That is no reason to bomb them. Therefore, while in general I am not in favour of bombing other people, I believe that there is a case for so doing in respect of Daesh. I therefore support the Prime Minister, as I do when he says that intervention should be confined to Daesh and its supporters. Indeed, I will go further. I am sure that he is right that this military action must be a component of a wider diplomatic and political initiative which must not only help degrade Daesh’s overt and more covert supporters but at the same time promote and strengthen our allies in the Middle East, not least Egypt. This wider project must be the priority, since without it, there is no hope of success against Daesh and what it represents.