|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Could we be clear exactly what the attitude is towards Iraq? Some of us guess that if the Iraqi Government had had much to do with this, it would have leaked; but the truth is that many Iraqis might have been recruited to bin Laden's evil organisation by 10 years of bombing and sanctions. That has to be faced.
Mr. Ancram: Obviously, the hon. Gentleman is aware that I am not privy to all the intelligence information that is available to Ministers. The question that I am asking is: if there is incontrovertible evidence linking the Iraqi regime with acts of terrorist atrocity, what action will be taken? If we shy away from action, we begin to undermine our own case in the fight against international terrorism.
Given the escalation of the international terrorist threat, what plans are there to increase the resources available to the intelligence agencies? As the Secretary of State for Defence will be aware, the agencies' heads have described their current and prospective funding position as "challenging", and have flagged up the possibility of being unable to maintain current service levels, let alone meet new challenges. The House recognises the fact that the events of 11 September showed the tragic human cost that can result from inadequate intelligence, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to reassure the House on that important matter.
We debate this serious situation today still in what might be called the period of preparation. That is a time when patience is called upon, and cool nerves are vital, but also a time when our determination and resolve to take on the enemy, international terrorismthat virus of evil inhumanityand to destroy it, must be strengthened and entrenched. As the Foreign Secretary said, we know that we face an enemy with a level of viciousness and a lack of accepted human values that we have never faced before. Three weeks ago, that enemy struck America with what were in effect human flying bombs, and we must keep that image ever before us. If we do not destroy that enemy, tomorrow it could be us.
We must not waver in our readiness to take part in the fight. We owe it to America for the way in which its people have always stood by us in our time of needbut our motivation is greater than that. This is also our own fight for our own freedom and security. If we truly believe in a world free from terror, and in our children's right to
Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton): My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was fastidious in referring to his visit to Israel last week. He did not refer, however, to the rite of passage that he went through and which all British foreign affairs spokesmen undergo when they visit Israel under Likud Prime Ministers. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House had his meeting cancelled because he rightly visited Har Homar. When I was shadow Foreign Secretary, Mr. Shamir, then Prime Minister, cancelled a meeting with me, which led Abba Ebban to tell me that a meeting with Mr. Shamir and no meeting with him were of equal value.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been vindicated in respect of what he said in his article and when he was in Israel. Since last week, the President of the United States has said that he believes that there should be a Palestinian land, as did my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister two days ago at the Labour party conference. However, I believe that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made an error regarding what appeared to be a comparison of the terrorism that is taking place now in the middle east with that which brought about the destruction of the World Trade Centre. I believe that there is a very great difference.
All terrorism, in any circumstances, is utterly to be condemned, but there are acts of terrorism that have a political objective. Even though the terrorism may be evil, the political objective may be valid. When Menachem Begin, as a future Israeli Prime Minister, ordered the bomb attack on the King David hotel in Jerusalem, he was seeking to establish the case for a Jewish state. When Mr. Shamir, also as a future Prime Minister, participated in the murder of the United States mediator Count Bernadotte, he did so for the same reason. When Yasser Arafat was involved in terrorist activity in the middle easthe was undoubtedly involved in such activity for a long period, before he learned better wayshis aim was to establish the case for a Palestinian state. As it happens, I agree with the objectives of both those groups of terrorists, although I totally oppose the terrorism in which they were involved. Even the unspeakable massacre in Srinagar this week, which both sides have rightly condemned, took place nevertheless within the context of the Kashmiri people's case for a right to speak in their future. The method was utterly wrong, but the objective was understandable and valid.
There is a difference between all those acts, which are based on methods that are utterly to be condemned but have objectives that are sometimes to be supported, and what took place in the United States three weeks ago. There is a very great difference indeed between terrorism with an objectivehowever wrong the terrorism itself may beand terrorism that is carried out simply for the sake of terror, which is what occurred in the United States
Belatedly, the west has come to realise that the existence of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is an affront to all human values. It is sad that this terrible series of events in the United States should have brought to the forefront the need to deal with that fact. In my constituency, there are refugees from Afghanistan who have undergone the most terrible experiences in order to flee from the Taliban. They would be the first to want to go back an Afghanistan that was peaceful and law abiding, and no longer treated women as chattelsthe treatment received by the women who fled to my constituency.
I want to address one more comment to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and refer to the lessons learned in my constituency. Like most hon. Members, I regard my constituency as my university, as it teaches me about all these issues. I deplore more than I can say the stupid, ill-informed remarks made today by Lady Thatcher. All the messages that I have had from the many Muslims in my constituency are of total condemnation of the atrocities that took place in the United States. It is an ill reward for their condemnation that they have been the victims of attacks such as that on the Eileen Grove mosque in my constituency. I welcome the fact that the Government are taking action to deal with the problem. Those racists who have attacked Muslims in this countrypeaceful, law-abiding people who support our Government's policyare not bin Laden's enemies, but his squalid disciples. There can be no excuse whatever for not dealing with such people, which is why I shall support the legislation that the Government plan to introduce.
Sometimes, there is a sanctimony about expressions of unity in the House, but on this occasion what has been said on both sides of the House has been completely sincere, is utterly necessary and should hearten the Government and the international coalition in the action that they are rightly planning to take.
Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): The Prime Minister rightly began his speech by reminding us that the events that have brought us here resulted in the death of 7,000 people from 70 nations in circumstances of unimaginable terror. Although it may be three weeks or more since the events took place, today we once again share in the sorrow of those who have been bereaved and bear their grief with them.
The passage of three weeks does not alter the fact that the events of 11 September were a deliberate and calculated atrocity that was conceived in cold blood, planned with skill and executed ruthlessly and regardless of the consequences. The cause of the attack was not American foreign policy, but an amoral disregard for human life. It is grotesque to suggest that a four-year-old girl, making her first and only flight in an aeroplane,
I hope that we will put an end to some of the crude anti-Americanism that has characterised comment here in the United Kingdom. I have criticised American foreign policy in the House, as have many other hon. Members. However, the sort of crude anti-Americanism that we have seen in some quarters is wholly unjustified. In the period immediately after the atrocities, people were anxious that the sense of outrage and alarm might provoke the United States into immediate, retaliatory action. Indeed, that is what the terrorists hoped for. As some have already said, it is a measure of the maturity of the Bush Administration that no such thing has happened. The American constitution, let us remember, is composed of checks and balances, and it is clear that in the last three weeks those checks and balances have been at work.
I agree with the Foreign Secretary that there is no need for an express resolution from the Security Council authorising a particular military response. Article 51 of the United Nations charter, and resolution 1373passed last week, on 28 Septemberauthorised the use of force in self-defence. As the Foreign Secretary said, the resolution is unique: never before has there been a resolution, mandatory, imposing obligations on all members of the UN under chapter 7.
If we have a reasonable apprehension that there is the possibility of a further attack, pre-emptive action is justified in international law, whether carried out individually or collectively. As I have said before, I believe that the United Kingdom should make its forces part of that military response. We have an interest in doing so; but the United States is our ally and we have treaty obligations under article 5 of the treaty establishing NATO.
As the Prime Minister also made clear, military action must be based on intelligence and must have clear objectives. Before today, the Prime Minister had said that there was incontrovertible evidence of the involvement of Osama bin Laden. The 19 countries of NATO reached a similar conclusion, abandoning the conditional support that they had initially given in favour of unequivocal support. Today the GovernmentI think, uniquelyhave decided to publish some parts of the intelligence. I do not recall intelligence of this kind being published, for example, at or about the time of the Gulf war. This is a unique occasion, and the House should understand that.
Only part of the intelligence is to be published. Why? Publishing all of it might well put at risk the lives of the people who provided it; but a more pragmatic and perhaps rather more cynical consideration is that such action might prejudice the availability of a valuable source in the future.
In so far as the whole evidence has not been published, I do not shrink from saying that we must take the Prime Minister and his colleagues on trust. The Prime Minister has gone to the country and he has come to the House of