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Mr. Clarke: I am grateful for my right hon. Friend's remarks, particularly his references to vigilance and respect. Those are key words for us all in the way that we operate, and he is right to highlight them.
I join my right hon. Friend in paying tribute to the police and community leaders in Leeds. In the immediate aftermath of the events, I was particularly glad to have his advice on how to deal with them. I pay tribute to the role that he played in seeking to lead his community in the direction that he describes, which has been very important.
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): Will the Home Secretary take account of the need to review the Human Rights Act 1998 in the context of these terror attacks? I am sure that he appreciates that severe difficulties arise if that Act gives judges the right to make decisions that should properly be taken by him and through legislation in this House. Does he agree that were he to provide for a "notwithstanding" clauseas in "notwithstanding the Human Rights Act 1998"before legislating, he would be able to overcome many of the difficulties on control orders, as I indicated in a Bill that I introduced a few months ago?
Mr. Clarke: The hon. Gentleman is a long-standing campaigner on the European convention on human rights; I am not sure whether that is simply because it comes from Europe or because he does not like human rights. Nevertheless, these are important issues. The right way to proceed is not by withdrawing from the convention, but by respecting human rights and trying to ensure that we can carry that through in an effective way.
Mr. John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend share my concern that some of those who have sought to understand and explain what happens have sometimes been accused of justifying what happens, and that in the current circumstances it is important that there is an open debate that recognises the causes of the London bombing?
On the legislation, the House is in recess for three months, but Select Committees are not necessarily so. Will my right hon. Friend consider publishing the draft Bill in sufficient time for the Home Affairs Committee to consider it before the House comes back?
Mr. Clarke: On my right hon. Friend's last point, I will certainly consider doing that. I appreciate the implicit offer in his readiness to see whether the Select Committee might meet although the House is not sitting. I will consider in conversation with him whether that might be a device to help further positive consideration.
On the more general point, I agree that care has to be taken. Some voices are immoderate in the way in which they address these questions, although immoderacy can
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perhaps be understood in the circumstances with which we are dealing. In general, although there are exceptions, the response of even the most extreme elements of the media has been positive rather than negative, and all parts of society have been trying to respond in a positive way.
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): As much as the Home Secretary has said, I thoroughly support. However, why do we have to depend on The New York Times to find out that the joint terrorist analysis centre, working from MI5 headquarters, concluded in June:
Why have the Government been so adamant that Iraq is not a factornot a reason or an excuse, still less a justification, for atrocity, but a factorin terrorist capability within the United Kingdom? We have had academic opinion in the Chatham House report and public opinion in yesterday's poll in The Guardian, and now we find that that was the view of the joint terrorist analysis centre in June. Has the Home Secretary seen that report and how does he reconcile it with the views expressed by the Government over the past two weeks?
On the more general point, there is a serious intellectual flabbiness on the part of those who argue that Iraq was the cause of this issue. If one looks back over the past 10 years at the appalling atrocities that have taken place across the world, including 9/11 and other events, one realises that many of them took place in different circumstances before the Iraq war was engaged upon.
It is very important to say that large numbers of perfectly reasonable people think that the Government's position on Iraq was wrong, but that does not mean that they are on the edge of being terrorists. It is perfectly okay to disagree with the Government. The Government had to come to a decision; I think that it was the right one. People can have their different opinionsthat is perfectly legitimate and part of the debate that can take place. However, it is completely mistaken to implyI am not suggesting that the hon. Gentleman implied it in quite this sensethat if one says that the Government's position on Iraq was wrong, that takes one to the edge of moving towards a terrorist attack.
Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): I very much welcome the Home Secretary's statement and the proposals in it. Does he accept that the root cause of the terrorist problem facing us is a global ideology that fuels hatred and that cannot be dealt with other than by facing it head on and accepting it for the evil that it is? Does he also agree that it is unacceptable for people to excuse or support suicide bombings outside this country, yet claim to be against the same sort of action within our shores?
I strongly agree with both my hon. Friend's points. I believe that her explanation is much
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nearer the problem with which we have to wrestle in trying to understand why the appalling events took place. We have to contend with a quasi-ideological set of issues. Not only all of us here, as Members of Parliament, in Government and in Opposition, but the communitiesespecially the Muslim community in the case that we are consideringmust contend with it. We have to be engaged in the argument. It is our job, especially mine, to do whatever we can with the Muslim community to help it to address the matter. However, my hon. Friend has put her finger on precisely the sort of issues that we must address when thinking our way through the problem.
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con): May I join my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) in congratulating the Home Secretary on the way in which he has handled matters since the atrocities were committed? Will the Home Secretary join me in congratulating the people of London and elsewhere on their refusal to be intimidated by the brutal acts and murders? Will he also assure hon. Members that any legislation relating to the terrorist acts that he intends to introduce will not be burdenedif I may use that wordby an unnecessarily harsh programme motion? I believe that adequate opportunity for all hon. Members to contribute positively is vital. Does he accept that if he excluded fanatical clerics, such as Abu Hamza, it would suggest to the people of this country that the Government and Parliament are serious about eradicating fanaticism?
Mr. Clarke: I hope that my statement will help to address the last point. On the second point, it is not for me to prejudge the usual channelsI have always sought to avoid that in my political life. However, I reaffirm the commitment that I gave in the statement, which was agreed with the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) and the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten), that there will be time for proper parliamentary scrutiny of the issues in both Houses and that that should form the context of the discussion between the usual channels.
Of course, I agree with the hon. Gentleman's comments about London, but I want to add one point. The response was due to the quality of our emergency services and the police, and the confidence that theyno one elsegave the people of London that the situation was being handled and was under control. It was also due to the absolute determination of all faiths to maintain the strength and reassurance that was part of the approach. That has re-established the importance of all faiths in our national life. I believe that that was one of the things that allowed the people of London to respond as strongly as they did.
Margaret Moran (Luton, South) (Lab):
Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Bedfordshire police and the emergency services on dealing with the difficult situation of the bomb scare in Luton and on the positive community relations that they have maintained? Will he clarify whether his proposals on indirect incitement would deal with the activities of al-Muhajiroun-related groups, which distributed
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inflammatory literature on the day after the terrorist attack in London? How can we deal with that issue without creating more so-called martyrs?
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