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31 Oct 2002 : Column 1016—continued

Mr. Cook: In the light of this morning's press about the Conservative party, the hon. Gentleman has made a bold attempt to find schisms within the Labour party. May I assure him that there will be no need for us to have a specific debate on the enemy within? I hope that every week we will be able to discuss and debate the activities of the right hon. Gentleman who leads for the Opposition on these occasions.

Mr. Alan Reid (Argyll and Bute): Earlier, the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) referred to the report of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas, which recommends the banning of trawling in the North and Irish seas, and off the west coast of Scotland. In his answer, the Leader of the House appeared to accept the report's accuracy. However, there is scientific opinion that contradicts the report and believes that the complete ban on trawling is unnecessary. In view of that divergence of views, will the Leader of the House arrange an urgent debate on the Floor of the House as soon as possible so that we can discuss the report and decide how best to convince the council that its ban on trawling, which would put 20,000 people out of work, is unnecessary?

Mr. Cook: It is a fact of any scientific proposal that someone in the scientific community will always have an alternative view. However, there is not much room for any doubt about the central proposition, which is that cod stocks are dwindling and that without action to retain them, the hon. Gentleman's constituents will, at some future time, face an outcome in which neither they nor their children will ever be able to resume fishing. If he really wants to look after the long-term interests of his constituents, I urge him to accept the need to ensure the conservation of fishing stocks.

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Points of Order

1.22 pm

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Last night we debated the Enterprise Bill. Amendment No. 1 dealt with the desire for a separation of powers between the chairman and chief executive of the new Office of Fair Trading. We divided the House shortly after 6 o'clock on the important matter of the two roles. During the debate, at about 5.57 pm, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Miss Johnson), referred to

The hon. Lady said that slowly and the whole House heard it. I intervened on her on that specific point about occupying both new roles. It was therefore with some surprise that I read the Official Report today and discovered that that comment does not appear in column 910. I checked the tape just now, and it certainly was said.

Could you speak to the Editor of the Official Report on behalf of the House, Mr. Speaker, to discover whether it was a genuine error—which I doubt, given the excellent stenographers—or whether a Minister or official from the Department of Trade and Industry went to get it expunged from the record?

Mr. Speaker: I suggest that the hon. Gentleman see the Editor of Hansard. If he is still dissatisfied, I will look into the matter. That is the best advice that I can give him.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask for your sage advice regarding the Leader of the House? The right hon. Gentleman is leaving his place now but a few moments ago he may inadvertently have misled the House. It was the Minister for Environment and Rural Development in Scotland who told Members of the Scottish Parliament yesterday that he could lead a delegation to the European Council of Ministers, the Minister responsible for fisheries here who said that he cannot, and the Leader of the House, in a previous role, who said that on occasion he should. I see that the Leader of the House is still here—perhaps he would clarify that it is not true, as he said, that all members of the Scottish Executive are happy with the current arrangements.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The Leader of the House's time is up, and we have moved on. [Interruption.] Just for today. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could get involved

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in a conversation with the Leader of the House, because I am not responsible for the replies that the right hon. Gentleman makes.

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This issue, which I have raised with you in correspondence, relates to the freedom of access for Members through the main Corridors in the parliamentary estate. This week, access between Norman Shaw North and the Chamber is being blocked during sitting hours and even during Divisions. On Monday evening, a point of order was made relating to the issue, and Madam Deputy Speaker said:

I asked you in the letter—I have yet to receive a reply—when that requirement was laid down and by whom, and what is the sanction for non-compliance.

I have been able to find out from the Journal Office that an order was made in 1974 stating that Members should be issued with passes, but there has never been any resolution of the House, as far as I can find out, stating that Members must carry them at all times. Even if there were such a resolution, how could you possibly require Members to ensure that the automatic card readers were working at the time the card was presented? That is the real issue. Surely the best form of security in the Palace of Westminster is to have good perimeter security and freedom of movement within it.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman reminds me of some of my constituents who ask me, XHave you got a reply ready for that letter?" When I ask, XWhen did you send it?", they say, XI sent it yesterday." I think that the hon. Gentleman sent the letter on Monday or Tuesday. He should wait until I can look at his correspondence, along with correspondence from other hon. Members.

I will look into this matter, but the House should bear in mind that we live in dangerous times and security must be a lot tighter than it used to be. There is a responsibility on hon. Members to ensure that they co-operate as much as they can with our security staff, who look after not only hon. Members, but all those who work in the House and who visit it. However, I will look at the hon. Gentleman's correspondence and reply to him.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Of course I endorse everything that you have just said, but may I ask that, when you look into this matter, you perhaps speak to the Parliamentary Works Directorate to ensure that all card readers are working at all times? Those of us who try to carry our identity cards with us can find it immensely frustrating if we then find that certain card readers are not operating properly and we cannot gain access.

Mr. Speaker: I will look into the matter.

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Defence in the United Kingdom

[Relevant Documents: Sixth Report from the Defence Committee, Session 2001–02, on Defence and Security in the United Kingdom, HC 518, and the Government's response thereto, HC 1230.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Kemp.]

1.28 pm

The Minister of State for Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram) : This is the last of the Session's five themed debates on defence. Two weeks ago, on 17 October, we debated defence in the world. Today, we consider defence in the United Kingdom.

As earlier debates have amply demonstrated, the United Kingdom's armed forces play a role in global peace and security that is second to none. They do so in defence of this country from attack by conventional and terrorist forces and as a force for good in the world, but they also play an important role here at home. The armed forces have a presence throughout the United Kingdom, from south-west England to Scotland, and from East Anglia to Northern Ireland. They serve the people of the whole United Kingdom as part of the wider community and the economy, and in conjunction with many other agencies organisations and emergency services.

I am therefore glad that the House has before it an excellent report from the Select Committee on Defence, entitled XDefence and Security in the UK", and the recently published Government response. Those documents will help us to address the issues today.

The context of the debate, like so much of the Ministry of Defence's activity in the past 12 months, is the aftermath and implications of the appalling terrorist attacks in the United States of America on 11 September 2001. Those attacks demanded two immediate tasks of us. First, we needed to respond urgently to the direct threat facing the United Kingdom and its interests. Secondly, we needed to re-examine our policies and planning to deal with al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organisations. Those responses were both international and domestic. They involved not just the United Kingdom but our friends and allies around the world; and not just the Ministry of Defence but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, the Department for Transport, the Cabinet Office and other Departments, including the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In the House on 16 October last year, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary set out both the immediate campaign aims and the longer-term objectives of our wider counter-terrorist strategy: to bring the leaders of al-Qaeda to justice; to prevent that group from posing a continuing threat; and to deny it a base in Afghanistan. More widely, we sought, and continue to seek, to do everything possible to eliminate the threat posed by international terrorism from whichever direction it comes. That is a challenge that faces all responsible countries, and it is a challenge to which the response must be more than a military one alone.

After 11 September, the Secretary of State immediately commissioned work within the Ministry of Defence to address the policy challenges and to look at

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our defence posture and plans in the light of the potential terrorist power demonstrated so starkly on that day. That work took as its basis the Government's defence policy developed and put in place through the strategic defence review carried out in 1997 and 1998. Our approach at that time was widely recognised and welcomed as being the correct one.

As the House will be aware, the new chapter was a re-examination not of the fundamentals of the strategic defence review but of the impact on it arising from the emergence of strategic and international terrorism. The new chapter should therefore be viewed as a development of part of a whole, and not as a stand-alone strategy on defence. We published two discussion documents as part of a wide and open consultation, which produced many contributions from individuals and organisations, including Members of both Houses of Parliament. The result was the publication of the new chapter on 18 July.

That document analysed how military force could be applied in response to the asymmetric threat that international terrorism poses. We face a different sort of enemy now—one whose strategic interests, infrastructure and will to fight are different from those of a conventional nation state, but who has identified and acquired the means by which to achieve strategic and profound international effects by their actions.

Clearly, part of the response is home defence and security, to which I shall refer in a moment, but another key part of it is the Xaway" game: in effect, taking the fight to the enemy consistent with our obligations and rights under international law.

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