|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Obviously, I echo the right hon. Gentleman's thanks to the emergency services. I pay tribute to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and to Westminster city council. They helped enormously both in the arrangements for the emergency services and in dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attack.
The Metropolitan police will obviously have the resources they need. We shall discuss further legislation across political parties. The Home Secretary will meet
11 Jul 2005 : Column 572
his colleagues on Wednesday; there will be an open agenda, but they will obviously discuss how they can best co-operate in defeating terrorism.
Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will know that two of the bombs exploded in my constituency, and I am sure that he will join me in commending the good sense of the vast majority of local people of all colours, cultures and religions in the area for remaining united in the face of this calamity and in the face of a limited number of evil people who wish to exploit the situation by stirring up religious hatred; but may I, on behalf of my constituents, also raise a deeply felt concern of local people, firefighters and others in the emergency services about the future security around the King's Cross/ St. Pancras area? The London fire authority has been planning for some time to withdraw some fire engines from three local fire stationsEuston, Clerkenwell and Islingtonon the grounds that
Thursday clearly demonstrated that they do relate directly to today's risks. Will he join me in saying to the fire authority that there should be no sense of shame or embarrassment in learning from experience and reconsidering that proposal?
The Prime Minister: First, I extend my sympathy to my right hon. Friend's constituents whose lives have been disrupted in this way. I am aware of the issue to do with the local firefighting resources around King's Cross and St. Pancras. I think that the best thing is to say that we will obviously consider any points made, and I will get back to him.
Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement. As the Member of Parliament for the constituency where the other two bombs, sadly, went off, I should also like entirely to endorse the sentiments of the right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Frank Dobson). The Prime Minister was absolutely right in every particular, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition has made it clear in his measured statement that we feel that this is not the time to rush in any way to judgment. Mindful, though, of the importance of maintaining the generally excellent relations between the different racial, ethnic and faith communities in our cities, I should like to ask the Prime Minister what steps he is taking to ensure that all the UK's Muslim religious and community leaders take the initiative now to prevent any backlash by making public statements in their home towns unequivocally condemning the perpetrators of last Thursday's atrocities.
The Prime Minister:
Meetings are taking place between the Home Secretary and the leaders of the community, and other members of the Government are meeting members of the community. Obviously, Downing street has been in contact with them, too. I have to say that there is no difficulty whatever in stating unequivocally that the vast majority of the Muslim community are completely condemnatory of those attacks and regard them as a betrayal of the true faith of
11 Jul 2005 : Column 573
Islam, and I am sure that that is right. Obviously, we will continue to get regular reports on community relations. It is remarkable, although I do not believe that it is surprising, that communities in London have not responded in a way that has divided people; on the contrary, they have been extremely unified in the response that they have made.
Mr. Mohammad Sarwar (Glasgow, Central) (Lab): Does the Prime Minister agree that last week's attacks on our great city of London were an attack on people of all faiths and communities? We stand united against the perpetrators of those evil, barbaric acts of terrorism. Can he assure me that the Government recognise that the overwhelming majority of the Muslims who live in this country are tolerant, law-abiding citizens who respect other religions and do not support terrorism? Can he assure me that the Government will do everything they can to prevent any backlash against Muslims?
The Prime Minister: I can certainly assure my hon. Friend of that, and the whole House will agree with his sentiments, which come particularly strongly from him as, I think, the first Muslim MP in the House. I know that he speaks for the whole Muslim community, apart from a very small number of extremists, in this country.
Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): I am sure that the Prime Minister will agree with me that great grief is never great at talking and that it is the silence noted by the tear in the eye, the lump in the throat and the pressure of hand upon hand that speaks volumes. I am sure today that we are proud of our country, in that there has been silence and not shouts. There has been quiet dignity and the strength of determination that a better day is coming for this country when we shall see the scourge of terrorism, from whatever source, cleaned from our ranks and people.
I pay tribute to Her Majesty the Queen. Whatever our views may be, I am sure that there is unity around the monarch at a time like this. I was thrilled to see the crowds that came and said to the terrorists, "We don't care about your threats. We're going to demonstrate where our loyalty lies." That needs to be emphasised.
May I associate myself and my hon. Friends with the words of the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition to the Prime Minister? We pay tribute to the Prime Minister as well. He had a hard week, flying here, there and everywhere. He had good days, but very grim and sad days, and the whole country can salute him today and thank him for his guidance.
The Prime Minister: I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for those kind words. I echo entirely his sentiments about Her Majesty the Queen. His feeling of solidarity with the victims of terrorism is obviously especially powerful as it comes from him and his colleagues, who lived for so long with the threat of terrorism. I thank him for that very much.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab):
Is it not of interest that some of the people who blame Government policies for what the murderous psychopaths did last Thursday are, in some instances, the very people who opposed military action in Kosovo to stop the ethnic
11 Jul 2005 : Column 574
cleansing of Muslims and, even more so, the liberation of Kuwait, which was 85 per cent. Muslim, from enemy occupation 14 years ago? Is it not rather important that the people to whom I am referringwe know that there are one or two in the House from a speech made last Thursdayshould stop making excuses for the mass murderers, whose hatred of humanity is no less than the Nazis'?
The Prime Minister: Obviously I agree with what my hon. Friend says. It is worth pointing out that 11 September happened in 2001before any of the military action. Many people are killed by the same type of terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan when they try to exercise their democratic rights there.
Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham) (Con): The Prime Minister will know that the whole House supports the counselling and support services that have been set up to help the families of the bereaved and the injured. Many of our constituents who work in the emergency and transport services will still be involved in the rescue and many will have complex and long-term reactions to the horror of the occasion. Can he assure me that proper counselling and support services will be available to all those people, whenever they are needed, so that we can ensure that our constituents get the best possible treatment that they need, too?
The Prime Minister: Yes, I can give that assurance. The hon. Lady is absolutely right. That was one of the things that we discussed at our meeting earlier today. It is essential that we keep the support there for as long as the families need it.
Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): I am grateful for the Prime Minister's reassurance that the families' support will continue. May I further ask him to continue supporting and working with bereavement charities such as Cruse, which have played a crucial role after disasters both here and abroad?
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|