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2.42 pm

Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): My hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) made a powerful speech about the humanitarian crisis. We should all listen carefully to and read what she says. The right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) spoke about the big picture, and I shall seek to follow that. In doing so, I shall build on the points that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made to the Welsh Assembly on Tuesday. He had two themes: first, remember; secondly, be patient.

We must remember why the conflict is happening—because of the atrocity of 11 September. We should remember 11 September and also the two United Nations Security Council resolutions that provide us with ample justification in international law. We should remember also the way in which bin Laden has exulted in the deaths that were caused on 11 September. He has made blood-curdling threats about his readiness to use even worse weapons, be they biological, chemical or even possibly nuclear. These are the things that we must remember when people may be inclined to wobble as we get into the three-week syndrome of saying, "Tragically, there have been some civilian deaths. Tragically, there have been certain mistakes." The big picture is that of 11 September, international justification and the continuing threat that we must bear in mind.

The second theme of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was the need to be patient. Clearly there are problems as the campaign progresses. I re-read de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America", where he questions whether a democracy can continue a foreign policy consistently for any length of time.

When we read our press and see the debates of retired generals on how they would wage the war, alongside the tragic pictures of individual citizens in Afghanistan who have lost their children, there are many temptations to wobble. However, let us remember what happened in Kosovo. Yes, the circumstances were different, but the bombing lasted for 78 days, the refugees have now returned and Milosevic is before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Yes, it is worth while viewing what is now happening in its proper perspective of 11 September, as well as remembering the theme of

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patience. I believe that our goals are clear and that if we wobble now, it will be tantamount to giving a form of victory to bin Laden and his associates.

My next point is this: where are we now domestically and internationally? I want to raise three issues of detail. First, in the past few days questions have been asked about the small number of British Muslims who are going to fight in Afghanistan. I should preface my comments on the matter by saying how much I welcome the statements of the many responsible Muslim leaders in Britain who have made it clear that bin Laden does not speak for the Muslim community. I welcome also the statement by Muslim parliamentarians on 18 October, in which they made it clear that taking military action and countering terrorism are essential.

There is encouraging poll evidence in The Daily Telegraph showing that the British people, with their usual good sense, are not allowing the conflict to damage their relations with British Muslim citizens. Clearly, however, some British Muslims are leaving the country to fight abroad against our own service men. No doubt, the numbers reported in the press are exaggerated, but even if there is only a handful of such individuals, we need to take the matter seriously and ask how our law is equipped to deal with the problem. Of course, there must a due process of law—but which law? The Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 is not relevant, as it deals with states and not non-state parties. We may have to consider updating it. I suspect that the Terrorism Act 2000 may not be wholly appropriate because of the question whether the Taliban are a terrorist organisation. We need to consider the Green Paper on mercenaries that the Government are about to publish. Indeed, they have been about to publish it for the past two years.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: May I draw to the right hon. Gentleman's attention the most excellent letter in today's edition of The Daily Telegraph by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier)? He commends use of the Treason Act 1351, which Lord Rooker suggested in the other place the Government were prepared to deploy.

Donald Anderson: We need to look at the whole battery of statute law that is available, not least in terms of passports, which are a matter for the Crown prerogative. However, there are two clear points: a clear and serious warning must be given to those who are tempted to go abroad; and statements are needed from leaders in the Muslim community telling people that they support the UK in this crisis or at least that they are ready to deter young people who are tempted to go abroad.

Secondly, on airline security, I want to make one point. Wearing a professional hat, in the past I have seen opportunities given for organised crime, drug running and so on because of lax recruitment of cleaners in aircraft at our airports. We must consider very carefully the recruitment of people who can go airside in our airports and procedures must be tightened.

I want to mention one final related matter: foreign students at British universities taking knowledge and expertise back to their countries that may be used against our interests, especially in respect of techniques for using weapons of mass destruction. How do we deal with the problem? We know, for example, that the woman who

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leads the biological weapons programme in Iraq was educated at the university of East Anglia. Of those who were involved in the atrocities in the United States, many were educated in the west. They do not come to the west to learn mediaeval English literature.

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Donald Anderson: No. I understand that there is no injury time.

We welcome the enormous benefits derived from the diversity of different cultures, but there should be rigorous checks on students in certain disciplines who come from sensitive countries.

The coalition is holding at the international level. I admire the Prime Minister for his energy on his various visits. We need to be clear about our war aims. We do not know how long the campaign will last. In the fight against terrorism in general it will be a continuing campaign, because terrorism will go on for as long as there are disaffected people who are prepared to kill the innocent for their political ends. All we can usefully do is to try to reduce the water in which the terrorists thrive. That means addressing the problems of poverty, and dealing with the hot spots such as the middle east that give aid and succour to terrorists.

We must be one step ahead of the terrorists. They are unlikely to use the same technique again as they used against the World Trade Centre. They may use other forms of asymmetric warfare, such as crop spraying and biological or chemical weapons. We need the very closest international co-operation across the board to ensure that we are one step ahead of the terrorists, because there will be greater numbers of casualties if we do not stand in their way.

2.51 pm

Mr. John Horam (Orpington): The whole House listened with great respect to the speech of the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd). We are all concerned about the humanitarian tragedy that is unfolding in Afghanistan. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) and the right hon. Member for Swansea, East (Donald Anderson), I want to draw back from that terrible tragedy and talk briefly about the wider picture.

One of the Prime Minister's famous remarks was that we should be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. That is also appropriate for dealing with the terrible problem of international terrorism. There is no question that we should be tough on the act of terrorism, but for two reasons. First, we have acted toughly, although with restraint, and we must continue to do so. If we show any sign of wobbling, it will send entirely the wrong message: that we are not committed to making the appropriate response.

Secondly, I am afraid that there are more terrorist acts to come. The appalling atrocity of 11 September was a much worse version of other terrorist acts that preceded it over a number of years. Chilling as it may be, we hope that the next act that inevitably will be committed is not even worse than what happened on 11 September.

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We must face the possibly of such acts wherever and by whomever they may be perpetrated. It would be totally irresponsible of any Government—whether it be the United States or the UK Government—to be supine in the face of such activity. It is our first duty to protect our citizens, and I am glad that the Government have acted fully and responsibly.

Every rational and caring human being should understand the criticisms and limitations of the bombing. It is clearly not doing much to unearth the whereabouts of Mr. bin Laden. There is a considerable danger that it alienates moderate opinion. We have seen how important that is, and the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about hearts and minds were entirely appropriate. This is a crucial issue, and I was disappointed that some Labour Members took on my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), the shadow Secretary of State for Defence. I am glad that he referred to hearts and minds. Hon. Members should have a united view. We support the Government on the importance of winning hearts and minds.

Perhaps even more important than dealing with the act of terrorism is dealing with its causes. It is difficult for a white, middle-aged Englishman in this day and age to get into the minds of fanatical terrorists from an extreme Muslim sect, but one must try to find out what motivates them.

The events of 11 September were an act of terror against the United States by an extreme Muslim sect. The hatred of America has been driven by the fact that, over the years, there has been American support for the state of Israel, troops have been present at bases in Saudi Arabia in particular and there have been clumsy and mistaken attempts at diplomacy, culminating in disappointment and distrust in the Arab lands. Also, it may be that America is seen as a symbol of the west's materialism.

There is clearly much truth in those charges. The west has not been wholly even-handed on the Israeli- Palestinian problems. Israel is occupying—

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