Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con):
May I, as a London MP, join my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition in passing compliments to the Prime Minister for his behaviour at the time of the explosion? Had I been in that position, I would have behaved in no other way at all, so I pass him my compliments directly for his behaviour and for uniting us and giving us real focus. May I also join with the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), who pointed out that those who have spent the past three days trying to divide us by blaming everyone for the reasons behind this were not only wrong, but shameful? The best answer to them was to be found in constituencies such as mine on Saturday and Sunday. There were wonderful crowds who gathered on Sunday to show the terrorists what they thought of them. They do not care about the terrorists; they care about peace. I and my constituents promise
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the Prime Minister and the Government that we will do our level best to back him in whatever he does to find these people.
Dr. Tony Wright (Cannock Chase) (Lab): As one of those who opposed the military action in Iraq, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend agrees that those who have been arguing over the past few days that what happened took place only because of that action are talking not only nonsense but dangerous nonsense? We are dealing with a group of Islamo-fascists who are against any form of democratic politics, and on that we should all be united.
Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): The Prime Minister said earlier that it seems probable that the attack was carried out by Islamist extremist terrorists. He will be aware of the remarks over the weekend by the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, now Lord Stevens, who suggested that about 3,000 young home-grown people in this country are prepared to undertake the sort of terrorist activity, in the name of religion, that we saw last week. What plans do the Government have to rid this country of some of the extremist clerics who, when they are not fanning the flames of fundamentalism, are preaching sedition throughout this country?
The Prime Minister: We need to look carefully at those who are inciting such hatred in our community. That is something that we should consider over the next few months as we consider what the right response throughout the country to the attack is. As for the numbers of those who are engaged in this type of extremism, it is difficult to judge. I recall that a few months ago when I suggested that there might be several hundred such people that the security services were looking at, there were people rather questioning of that. It is difficult to be accurate. It is difficult as well when those who are engaged in these attacks were born and bred in this country. I chose my words carefully because I think that, until we can provide some more definitive information as to who exactly was behind these attacks and their identity, it is as well to proceed with some caution. At present, I am not in a position to say definitively exactly who they were and whether they were people from this country or from outside.
Mr. John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab):
I endorse everything that my right hon. Friend has said about the position and the views of the Muslim community in this country. The number of those who would actively support or even apologise for the action is tiny, but it is the case that we can never give up on the battle for every heart and mind. In the weeks and months ahead, will my right hon. Friend, working with the leaders of the Muslim community, consider ways in which the Government can give every support to
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members of that community in every school, every college, every prison and every community, to ensure that there is no young person whose heart and mind we do not aim to win?
The Prime Minister: I think that my right hon. Friend is right. Obviously there is a limit to what we can do by conventional methods of security, although it is absolutely necessary to do everything that we can. As my right hon. Friend says, it is also a battle for hearts and minds. There is no doubt about that. This type of extremism that preys on a warped and perverted view of Islam does not have its roots here but in different parts of the world. None the less, it can spread its hateful doctrines elsewhere. I know that there are many people within the world of Islam who are looking at how moderate, sensible and true Muslims can rise up against this extremism and defeat it. In the end, part of the answer can come only from within.
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): On behalf of the Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru may I offer condolences to the relatives of people who died, who are missing, or who are maimed as the result of Thursday's atrocity? I hope for swift and early justice for the perpetrators, only after which should any operational inquiry take place. I endorse the Prime Minister's remarks about the spirit of Londoners, the courage of the emergency services and the role of the Islamic community in our country. On Saturday, Mr. Berlusconi said:
The Prime Minister: No. The one thing that is obvious from the long list of countries that have been victims of this type of terrorism that I read out is that it does not discriminate greatly between individual items of policy. I am afraid that I must tell the hon. Gentleman that it is a form of terrorism aimed at our way of life, not at any particular Government or policy. If we retreated on one front, they would simply make us retreat on another, so the only way to deal with it is to stand up to it and defeat it.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): Is the Prime Minister aware that it seems that a significant number of people who lost their lives last Thursday came from Islington or worked there, as the tube line runs through the borough, as does the No. 30 bus route? Everyone in the borough condemns what happened. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Ms Thornberry) and I spent part of the weekend at the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park, where there was complete condemnation of everything that happened, and full support for the police in trying to find the perpetrators of this outrage.
Will my right hon. Friend be cautious about the introduction of further anti-terrorist legislation that might reduce co-operation between the many communities in London and the Metropolitan police, because that co-operation is important in isolating and catching the people who perpetrated carnage on the
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streets of London? Does he endorse the points made by the Mayor about the need for understanding the multicultural nature of London's life and, indeed, the multicultural nature of the victims of the terrible atrocity last Thursday?
The Prime Minister: I endorse those comments completely, and I extend my sympathy and condolences to the families of any of my hon. Friend's constituents who may be victims of last Thursday's attacks. In respect of the legislation, it will be much easier if we can achieve some form of consensus. There is a balance to be struck, but it is sometimes difficult to strike it. My own view is that just using the normal processes of law will not be enough. On the other hand, we must be careful in whatever legislation we introduce that we do not traduce the very principles that we seek to uphold. That is the balance that we must try to strike, and I can only say that I will do my best to try to reach as broad a consensus as possible on any legislation that may be needed.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): My right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition rightly paid tribute to the Prime Minister's quiet and calm leadership, and recognised that the responsibility for legislation must rest with the Government. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister himself has talked about consensus, and did so again just now. Would he build on the consensus of the Lambeth declaration and the consensus exemplified in the House this afternoon by inviting the signatories to the Lambeth declaration, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and others to Downing street to discuss the next steps?