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1.48 pm

Alistair Burt (North–East Bedfordshire): Listening to today's remarkable speeches has reminded me of how fortunate we all are to be here to express our views and, indeed, of how lucky we all are to be here at all. Apart

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from our strong feelings of grief for our friends in America and our desire to stand close with them, our primary responsibility to our constituents, to the nation and to the wider world is that of safety. How can we best address ourselves to improving the safety of our people in the circumstances of the past few days?

The debate has emphasised the tension between the concepts of justice and vengeance. I take the view that there is a distinction between the two. It appears clear that, as my right hon. Friend the shadow Foreign Secretary said, if the world has not changed, the rules of terrorism certainly have, and the terrorists themselves have changed the rules.

It is one thing for nations to react to the occasional terrorist outbreak, it is a different thing to bow before the scale of the terrorist attack that took place the other day. It changes us from being reactive to being proactive. We can no longer afford to play roulette now that the stakes have been raised. We cannot afford to wait and see the scale of the next attack, when the next group of terrorists descend still further into human depravity. The terrorists have proved that they have the will; all they lack is the means to commit the next atrocity. Ultimately, if none of us is safe, none of us is free.

There must be a response, and it is likely to be military and forceful, but it must be seen by the world to be just rather than vengeful. The distinction is this: justice is seen by the court of world opinion to be appropriate, properly directed and designed for good. Crucially—the House should accept the strictures of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway) and the Father of the House, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell)—justice should not leave embers of hate to be stoked up again. In short, justice means that people say, "This action is right"; vengeance means that people fear what comes next.

Secondly, I agree with those who suggest that there has never been a better time to deal with the underlying causes of world terrorism—the hot spots that in their lack of a resolution have bred the refugee camps, fuelled with a sense of injustice and hatred. The hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) gave a small catalogue of those hot spots with which I fully concur. Every underlying cause of hate can be examined afresh with new will. It may be that the death of thousands moves just one party that has blocked progress in the talks in one part of the world. It is enough to try to unblock that progress so that some causes of tension can be removed.

My third point may not have been approached before. What on earth do we tell our children? How do we explain to young people what they have seen this week? Children cannot understand the sophisticated contradictions behind the concept of a just war. They cannot understand that sometimes force is needed to enforce something good and decent. How does a Christian voice of love make itself heard in these circumstances? For our children, we must deal with the matter by our absolute rejection of hate. Just as the terrorist is fuelled by vengeance and the bones of resentment that he can pick over, so he succeeds if he can sow hate. When in the west every dark face, every strange language and every different religion can be feared as sheltering an enemy, the terrorist has won. We must banish the causes of hate, for ultimately it was hate, and nothing but hate, that caused the crimes on Tuesday—murderous, anti-American hatred in the hearts of the perpetrators.

In this country, we should continue to promote anti-racism and continue our working dialogues between faiths. We should encourage our children not to see lines

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of demarcation but to see common humanity in each other and to see what they share. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in "The Gulag Archipelago", wrote:

If we are to banish hate, it has to be replaced with something, and it should be replaced with love. Our children should be taught that it is love that ultimately conquers. What will be the lasting image of what has happened in America this week? I believe that it will not be a cowed and broken nation, pointing to the disfigurement of war. What will endure are the stories of love, which came from the air as people struggled desperately to say their last "I love you" to those they would never see again, and the messages left on telephone answering services. It will be the love that was seen between people as they worked with each other, sought to rescue each other, comforted each other, gave blood for each other and died for each other. If we can prove that to children—that love will ultimately rebuild, there is a chance of good coming from this.

If our children are to have hate driven out of their minds, they must have their minds turned to other things. I am reminded of the words to the Philippians. Although they come from our bible, they are universally applicable. St. Paul said:

Let us help children to drive out the concept of evil by thinking on such things.

Those who perished on Tuesday will have an epitaph and it will be for good. If we can couple our determination to take the action necessary to rebuild a safer world—costly though it may be—with the determination to root out the ultimate cause of our inhumanity to each other, not one of those victims will have died in vain.

1.56 pm

Mr. Gordon Marsden (Blackpool, South): We would indeed be stones in this Chamber today if the loss of more than 5,000 people had not evoked the response that has come from almost all sides of the House—even more so, given our ties of history, culture, language and blood with the United States and in the knowledge of our own citizens who perished there. So many Members have their own personal and family contacts with that country. I studied there. I have relations there. On that morning, one of my college friends took her daughter to school just by the World Trade Centre. Fortunately—or unfortunately—she saw the impact of that aeroplane, dragged her child away and got them both back to the safety of mid-Manhattan.

John Donne said that no man was an island. We have demonstrated that again in our debate today, but if anyone in this Chamber doubted the need for solidarity between ourselves and the United States, let them go now to St. Paul's cathedral where that service is going on and see the book of honour of American service men who gave their lives for this country and for freedom in the second world war.

We need to think of all sorts of practical responses, in terms of security and airlines, when this thing has begun slowly to remove itself from trauma. We need to look at

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airline security, access to cockpits and staff training. We must also not be complacent. Like many Members, I have been through America on internal flights. Yes, it is certainly true that security there is perhaps not what it should be, but let us not be deluded that we may not face similar problems of vigilance in this country as our internal flight schedules come more and more to resemble those of the United States, as more and more people travel. We need to take that on board.

The response we make must, of course, be proportionate. Everything that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition said this morning emphasised and underlined that. The commitment of NATO, the UN and the European Union to that cause is important.

Most important, as so many Members have stressed, is that Islam and the Muslim faith are not demonised. If not for other reasons—of reality, but also of realpolitik—let us remember the millions of Muslims in Kosovo, Macedonia and south-eastern Europe, where at this moment we are engaged on so delicate an act of diplomacy and on constructive dialogue and peace making. We must be careful not to demonise.

At the end of the day, we must make that measured, proportionate response with the same determination as if it were a war, though it is not. It is, as someone said, a monstrous crime. We must do that because we wish to defend democratic values—of whatever civilization we aspire to or talk about. Greece gave us the first ideas of democratic values. It was Pericles, in his famous oration over the dead of the Peloponnesian war, who said that the whole world was the tomb of famous men. In some respects, the whole world is now entombed with the dead of many nationalities in the World Trade Centre. However, we need to ensure that that is not the entombment of our values, of our civilisation and of our democracy. We need to make sure that, by our action, we transmute that terrible human tragedy and that tomb into a memorial for all time and into a testament of which we can be proud. To quote John Donne again:

2 pm

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex): Nothing could better demonstrate the purpose of recalling Parliament than some of the speeches that we have heard in the Chamber today. I single out the speeches made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Mahmood) and by my hon. Friend the Member for North–East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt): a Muslim and a Christian; a socialist and a Conservative; but joined together determined that reconciliation and rebuilding, and not retaliation, anger and vengeance, should be our response to this dreadful tragedy.

It is with regret that I take over as shadow Secretary of State for Defence in the aftermath of such an immense tragedy. I would have wanted to take this first opportunity at the Dispatch Box to pay a much fuller tribute to the bravery and dedication of our service men and women who are posted in various places over the globe. They represent our country at its finest, and in this uncertain hour we know that they stand prepared to do whatever may be asked of them.

This has been a week of horror. That point was amplified by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) and by the e-mail read out by my hon. Friend the Member

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for Tatton (Mr. Osborne). Many of us have visited New York and Washington; I have stood as a tourist under the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and marvelled at them, and I have visited the Pentagon for defence briefings.

This has been a week of horror, mass murder and destruction; of heroism and self-sacrifice; of loss and grief; and of the first acts of remembrance that will no doubt be repeated for many years to come on the anniversary of 11 September. Our hearts and prayers go out to the injured and the bereaved, who come from all corners of the world.

These are the factors that mark Tuesday's attack as one of the grossest violations of humanity that the world has seen since the second world war—an attack on the fundamental values of an entire world civilisation and on the values underpinned by every mainstream religion in the world. The minds behind this deed are every bit as evil as the minds behind the Stalin's pogroms, Hitler's holocaust and the killing fields of Pol Pot.

That is why every nation of the world must come together to fight this terrorist threat. I join most warmly in endorsing the Prime Minister's diplomatic efforts to support President Bush. They have so effectively helped to bring together a remarkable unity of purpose not just in NATO and the European Union, but in the United Nations. It is a coalition of states that extends among the Islamic countries.

That is a remarkable first step, but it does not resolve the future steps necessary to reduce and then to combat this dreadful threat. For there is a constant theme that must underpin everything that we say and do in the aftermath of Tuesday: there can be no appeasement. However cautious we may be obliged to be in what action is taken, however difficult it is to identify those who genuinely share responsibility for the atrocities, and whatever sacrifices need to be made to confront them, there can be no appeasement—a lesson we have had to learn from bitter experience in our own land and elsewhere in Europe when facing terrorism.

First, we must accept that this threat has been developing for some time. We must be prepared to ask ourselves: were we too ready to greet the end of the cold war as a so-called new world order? Such talk of a new world order lured many into a fool's paradise. Although we have successfully policed limited conflicts such as in the Balkans and we hope that we have successfully contained the occasional rogue state such as Iraq, across the whole of NATO, have we downgraded our defence capabilities too much? Have we been too ready to allow the main role of our armies to become that of a gendarmerie trapped in the thinking of conventional warfare? Have we reduced the mystique and secrecy of our secret services—our security services—and therefore possibly the effectiveness of our intelligence services?

In the meantime, while that has been happening, Africa has become a cauldron of military conflict and instability. Governments, from those in the former Soviet republics to those in central America, teeter on the brink of chaos, feeding the discontent of their peoples and the rampant corruption and gangsterism upon which terrorism thrives. For too long, have we taken too little care of that? We must accept that the security challenges raised by the new world disorder are far wider than we have hitherto been prepared to admit, possibly partly because we are reluctant to face the necessary expense and inconvenience.

We must face up to the threat of what is called asymmetric warfare. I am new to this brief, but I am struck by the fact that that term has been in the defence jargon

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for some time. As long ago as 1998, the executive director of the Emergency Response and Research Institute of the United States, Clark L. Staten, addressed the question of asymmetric warfare in a comprehensive paper which demanded a significant shift in US Government thinking and resource allocation. He pointed out starkly how global conflicts were changing:

He went on, foretelling how terrorists

He even said, almost prophetically:

He also added:

In this country, our own strategic defence review noted the threat of asymmetric attack. But the Chairman of the Select Committee on Defence, the right hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George)—again, as long ago as 1998—wrote:

He also said that it had failed

That underlines the truth of what the Foreign Secretary said earlier about the scale of the threat we face; these people will resort to weapons of mass destruction and even ballistic missiles if they have the opportunity. We must be prepared.

We must be prepared to commit the necessary resources to ensure that we have the capability to respond to that threat. We need what is known as layered defence: an ability to respond in a measured and effective way to the widest spectrum of threats. Our armed forces are already overstretched. While this is not the occasion to revisit that particular controversy, it is a factor which now surely more than ever must be addressed, particularly with reference to our security services. I urge the Defence Secretary to respond on that point. The heads of both MI5 and MI6 have voiced their concerns about the 2001-02 financial year, saying that the funding position would be "challenging". They also flagged up the possibility of being unable to maintain current service levels and meet new challenges. Can the Secretary of State comfort the House that resources will not be a constraint upon the necessary intelligence effort required to defeat the threat, particularly as British intelligence services can make such a uniquely valuable contribution?

Finally, when the time comes for military action, we, of all nations, should have the confidence to say to the United States, "We will be by your side." Is it not vital that any United States effort should be, and should be seen to be, part of the widest international effort? Will the Secretary of State confirm that the Prime Minister's warm words really do mean that the UK is prepared to commit our armed forces in support of whatever action is necessary to eradicate this particular threat?

I urge the House to set aside notions of a blank cheque for retaliation. That is not what we are talking about. There is no way of guaranteeing the certain success of any

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military venture, but the United States would never undertake anything but the most carefully planned and effective action—and, of course, we can expect the United States to consult her allies.

Much of this debate has been about how to beat the terrorist threat. Our response is this recall of Parliament, and this measured debate. There has been much pessimism, but let us have confidence. Our values are not under threat; they are vindicated by the very acts of the terrorists. Their way of life is ultimately self-destroying. All that we need do is carry out what needs to be done with absolute determination, and we will win.

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