My Lords, it is in debates such as this that this House truly comes into its own. I have listened with tremendous interest and respect to the many outstanding contributions on all sides from many noble Lords much more experienced in these matters than myself. However, I have been somewhat surprised to listen to some of the breathless commentary on radio and TV proclaiming in various forms that somehow, depending on a decision in the other place, we could be at war tonight. Surely, as part of our international coalition, in those terms we are already at war and have been since last September. We are discussing the extension of that action into Syria across a border that Daesh itself clearly does not even recognise.
Whatever we may think, Daesh and its affiliates clearly believe that they are at war with us and make no secret of it in their prodigious social media output. They have killed and maimed scores of our citizens and those of our allies. They also make no secret of their plans to kill many more, regardless of the decisions we make tonight. The key question for me is: will extending our current military action into Syria help to reduce or degrade their ability to attack us further? I believe that the answer to that question is undoubtedly, in a limited way, yes. Therefore, we should support that action and rely on the tremendous skills and bravery of our fantastic Armed Forces to prosecute that campaign.
It is also worth speculating on a “what if?” question. What if the atrocities that we saw in Paris recently had occurred—as, indeed, they very well might—in London or one of our other cities, as they may well in the future? We would undoubtedly wish to take retaliatory action against the people responsible. I am sure we would want to rely on our friends and allies in France and the United States to stand by us and support us in that action. In those terms alone, we should support our French allies and provide all the help and assistance we possibly can.
I respect those in this House and elsewhere who call for peace and negotiated settlements. Surely that is the ideal. But where is their evidence that Daesh is the slightest bit interested in any kind of peaceful settlement, irrespective of what we choose to do tonight? They are barbaric zealots. They are not interested in treating and talking peacefully with us, or in any kind of negotiated settlement. I am afraid that there is no non-violent alternative or solution to this. I totally accept that we must take action. We should support the Government in their campaign. I also believe that it will undoubtedly involve the use of ground forces in the future, I hope alongside Muslim Arab allies. I think that that is the way the campaign is going. Sadly, I see no alternative, so we should support the Government tonight.