I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I commend his constituents who live and work in that area of London for the way in which they responded to this weekends events. Of course, I would be happy to listen to any of his or his constituents ideas about how we can ensure their security. Immediately following Friday mornings events, the police increased what they call protective security with high-visibility policing in the area. On threat levels, we will need to keep what is appropriate under review. High-visibility
policing, the sort of measures that are already in place and vigilance, which is an important role for those who live and work in the area, are the most appropriate ways to address the threat.
Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North and Sefton, East) (Lab): I, too, welcome my right hon. Friend to her new and awesome responsibilities and congratulate her on the calm and effective way in which she has carried them out over the past few days. I also welcome the fact that she continues to review counter-terrorism legislation. May I express the hope that should it prove necessary to extend the time for which a suspect may be held for questioning, she will bring measures forward without any hesitation?
Jacqui Smith: I thank my right hon. Friend. As my predecessor made clear at the beginning of June, we want to take forward proposals for the counter-terrorism Bill on the basis of consultation. He and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made it clear that there might well be a case for examining the amount of time for which we are able to detain people pre-charge so that we ensure that there is the very best opportunity to bring successful convictions. However, if we were to go down that route, we would do so on the basis of consultation, a careful examination of the evidence, and ensuring that there was appropriate scrutiny.
Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): Whatever the circumstances of present events, is the Home Secretary aware that in serious criminal cases involving terrorism that have recently concluded, there has been a strong connection between serious offences and the influence and transmission of extreme ideological religious views? Will she make countering that baleful influence a priority?
Jacqui Smith: I agree that, in some cases, the transmission of what I would call extreme viewsfull stophas led to at least part of the ongoing terror threat. As I suggested earlier, it is the responsibility of not only the Government but community leaders and others to isolate those extreme violent views, wherever they occur, and to ensure that we bolster the vast majority of all our communities who share British values, a respect for law in this country and all our concerns about countering terror.
Dr. Tony Wright (Cannock Chase) (Lab): If an important part of being British is agreeing about how we disagree, does the Home Secretary agree that we must ask the British Muslim community to condemn this barbarism without any equivocation or caveatwithout any ifs and butsbecause it is our only real ally against it?
I think that the support from our communities has actually been very positive. Whoever was involved in these attacksof course, we do not know who that wasI acknowledge that those in our Muslims communities may feel that they are under the spotlight. In fact I was encouraged by the reaction
from the Muslim community over the weekend. For example, Khurshid Ahmed, the chair of the British Muslim Forum, expressed
support to the Government in raising the threat level,
pledged full support and co-operation...in tackling this menace.
make a concerted effort to root out the dregs of society who commit such horrific actions, whose aim is nothing but to terrorise innocent human beings,
such actions have nothing to do with Islam.
Those are strong positive messages and we need to work with members of the Muslim community who express views like that to isolate the very small minorities in any community who want to propagate hate and terror.
Derek Conway (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con): Is the Home Secretary aware that extremist fundamentalists have described the attack on the Tiger Tiger nightclub as an attack on slags? My daughter was there that night at a party of 18-year-old girls from a convent school who were celebrating the end of A-levels and an 18-year-old girls birthday. Dealing with a mindset that describes people enjoying themselves in London in such a way shows the challenge that this remarkably steady Home Secretary has to face. Does she share my utter gratitude and that of the parents of all the girls from St. Marys school, Ascot, whose daughters would not be with them today if it were not for the outstanding bravery of the bomb disposal officer who manually tackled the bomb? It is difficult to comprehend that bravery and it is even more difficult to express our thanks properly.
Jacqui Smith: The hon. Gentleman does a very good job of expressing our thanks and the concerns and fears of those who had family, or knew of other people, involved in any of these incidents. He rightly identifies the need for us to be able to continue whatever we want to do in our everyday life, whether that involves attending nightclubs or going on holiday, free from the fear of terrorism and refusing to be intimidated by it.
Mr. Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her new post and on all the steadfast work that she has done over the past few days. She will know that yesterday the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Hazel Blears), and I were in Birmingham, where 5,000 people from more than 250 mosques have congregated over the past two days. At that meeting, all of them unreservedly condemned this absolutely barbaric attack. Does she agree that that is the attitude of the majority of the Muslim community, that any policy grievances that anybody might have are not an excuse to carry out such an attack, and that we must tackle those people who continue to say otherwise?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I understand that it was a very good event that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and my hon. Friend attended. That is precisely the sort
of positive work between and within communities that is an effective way to tackle terrorism, and I thank my hon. Friend for his comments today.
Mr. Paul Goodman (Wycombe) (Con): I represent the largest number of Muslim voters of any official Opposition Member of Parliament. Following the point just made, the Islamic religious institutions in my constituency condemn terrorism absolutely. Does the Home Secretary agree that the main driver of the threat that faces us is not foreign policy, as some have intimated, but the perversion of a great religion into a separatist political ideology? Does she also agree that that ideology must be challenged, confronted and rooted out in all our communities if the challenge to our way of life is to be defeated?
Jacqui Smith: The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point from what is obviously a position of knowledge. I welcome the points that he makes about the strong message from the Muslim community; he is precisely right. Any attempt to identify a murderous ideology with a great faith such as Islam is wrong, and needs to be denied. That approach needs to be supported by all right-thinking people in the communityMuslim and otherwise.
Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Lab): May I also congratulate the police on the speed of their response? In my area that includes Staffordshire police, who have been working with the west midlands counter-terrorism unit and the Metropolitan police. I visited Chesterton in my constituency this morning, where two of those arrested rented a property. I spoke to the police yesterday and again today, and I know that Staffordshire police are holding various meetings with the local community throughout north Staffordshire tomorrow. My understanding is that none of those suspected originate from our local communities. May I urge my right hon. Friend to ensure that at this difficult time the police and all agencies continue the balanced approach, firm but not alarmist, in the interests of community cohesion in north Staffordshire and everywhere else in the United Kingdom?
Jacqui Smith: It is, of course, not possible at present for us to know the origins or details of those who have been arrested, but I strongly agree with my hon. Friend in the approach that he identified. If there is anything that I or my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government can do to support communities in his constituency at this difficult time, I would be happy to do it.
Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP): At this difficult time, may I commend the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister on their new responsibilities and for the excellent co-operation between the UK Government and the Scottish Government? Since the attack in Glasgow and the attempted attacks in London, nobody should be in any doubt that terrorism is completely unjustified. The Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru join all other parties in condemning the attempts to kill or maim innocent people and undermine our democratic values. In recognising the integral, important and positive role played by the Muslim community in modern Scotland, does the Home Secretary share my appreciation of the strong condemnation across society as a whole of the latest outrages?
Jacqui Smith: Yes; I join the hon. Gentleman in thanking the Scottish Executive and other officials in Scotland for the co-operation that there has been on what is clearly a pan-UK incident, which we need to work together to tackle. My conversations with the Justice Minister and the First Minister have been important in developing that understanding, and I entirely agree with the point that the hon. Gentleman makes about the strong condemnation from the community, and welcome it very much.
Sandra Osborne (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) (Lab): May I add my appreciation to the Muslim community in Scotland and its representatives for their immediate and unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attack on Glasgow airport? I welcome the doubling of resources for counter-terrorism since 2001. What resources specifically have been allocated to Scotland, and have there been resources in addition to the block grant through the Barnett formula?
Jacqui Smith: The responsibility for counter-terrorism is not devolved, so the doubling of those resources, particularly through the resources that have gone to the security service will, rightly, have benefited my hon. Friends constituents and those throughout Scotland.
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): The Home Secretary rightly said that there must be compliance with the law, but the question is: which law? I am sure she will understand that the root trouble in many casesfor example, with control orders, with seven terror suspects having disappeared under what are described as ineffective control ordershas led to a position in which the judiciary is making basic and fundamental public security decisions and has effectively taken those away from the Home Secretary on behalf of the Government. Will the Home Secretary, in her consultation and possibly earlier, please legislate to make certain that human life comes before human rights in this context, and that we legislate at Westminster, irrespective of the Human Rights Act, in order to ensure that we put the public safety first?
Jacqui Smith: I very much look forward to the hon. Gentlemans contribution to the consultation on anti-terrorism legislation. It is a full and open consultation and all views will be welcomed. The hon. Gentleman is, I think, referring to the European convention and he is, of course, aware, because I have heard it described from the Dispatch Box relatively recently, of the action that the Government are taking in the context of some cases currently being pursued, to make the case that it is possible both to fulfil the conditions of article 3, and alongside that, to recognise the need for national security and public safety, as he put it.
Dr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend agree that because even a primitive car bomb can inflict colossal carnage, and because those responsible are clearly going for centres where there are large numbers of people, there are major implications for how we organise, manage and design major airports and railway stations in the future?
My right hon. Friend is right that we need carefully to consider the design of major transport hubs and other crowded places in both the
short term and the longer term. The need to think about protective security is why the police have already begun to offer advice not only to large transport hubs, but as I have suggested, to sports stadiums, shopping centres and other places where there are likely to be large numbers of people. He is undoubtedly right that as methods of terror evolve, so must the means by which we protect our people against them.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): In his major speech on terrorism last October and again over the weekend, the Prime Minister drew a justified comparison between the successful efforts to isolate and undermine the ideas of militant communism during the cold war and the effort that needs to be made now in respect of the doctrines that motivate such attacks. Will the Home Secretary tell us whether the research, information and communications unit, which it was announced in March would be set up for such purposes in the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, is in fact up and running, and whether the new Minister with responsibility for home security, Sir Alan West, whose appointment I warmly welcome, will have a role in connection with that unit?
Jacqui Smith: I can confirm that the RICU, to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, has been set up. It is in its early days, but it has been set up within the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism. My hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter Terrorism and Police, Admiral Sir Alan West, and I will take responsibility for security and counter-terrorism. We will push forward on the need to counter the destructive ideology which the hon. Gentleman has rightly mentioned, and on all other elements of our counter-terror work, too.
Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central) (Lab): A few months ago, I tabled questions in support of moves by the British Compressed Gases Association to try to restrict illegal sales of gas cylinders, which are usually second-hand sales, particularly on auction sites such as eBay. Unfortunately, such sales are not policed, and the association wanted to tighten the regulations surrounding such sales for a number of reasons, including the prevention of the use of such cylinders in terrorist attacks. Will the Home Secretary meet me, any colleagues whom she feels are appropriate and the chief executive of the association to try to move that issue forward?
Jacqui Smith: My hon. Friend has made an important point. As I have suggested, once the immediate investigation of the incidents is successfully concluded, it will be important to examine in detail the lessons that we can learn, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and I will want carefully to consider my hon. Friends point.
Sir John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West) (Con):
The Home Secretary is probably aware that some press reports have indicated that at least one of the people involved in those attempted atrocities was subject to a control order and that they are one of several people in that category who have absconded. Does she share the view of my constituents and many hon. Members that it is puzzling that the British judiciary tends to interpret the Human Rights Act 1998 in a different way from its
counterparts elsewhere in Europe, particularly the French? Even when there is the prospect of deporting people to a jurisdiction that is prepared to guarantee that those people will not be subject to torture, the death sentence or anything like that, it is still not carried out. Does there not need to be consistency in how such multinational legislation is interpreted, and should not the Government take steps to ensure consistency of interpretation across signatories to the European convention on human rights?
Jacqui Smith: I started my statement by emphasising the need not to speculate at this time on the nature of those involved in the incidents. I shall stick by that self-denying ordinance, which I think is correct, but no doubt there will be ample opportunity during my time at the Dispatch Box for us to discuss control orders and a whole range of other issues.
Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, East) (Lab): My right hon. Friend is no doubt aware that hundreds of passengers at Glasgow airport were confined aboard aircraft on taxiways and runways for up to seven or eight hours. According to reports, they included children from a school for those with special needs, elderly and disabled people and very young children. While recognising the demands of security, will she consider what more can be done to alleviate the distress caused to such passengers in any similar situation in the future?
Jacqui Smith: Although I am very sympathetic about what must have been a very difficult situation for those passengers, the authorities were absolutely right, certainly in those very early stages, to put the security of people travelling into and out of Glasgow airport at the heart of their response.
Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex) (Con): I thank the Home Secretary for her statement. Will she enlarge on the timetable for future legislation? Would that be a Bill in the new Session, and would it leave time for draft legislation to be presented to the House, perhaps even before the rising of the House this month? May I reinforce the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis)that we do not want to finish up in opposing Lobbies on measures of such importance, but that that depends on a proper understanding of what the Government are seeking to achieve, a proper understanding of the threat, and proper legal coherence in the legislation presented to the House?
Jacqui Smith: I am recently enough a business manager not to upset my erstwhile colleagues by making rash statements about when legislation will or will not be introduced. I repeat that it is my intentionas my predecessor as Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (John Reid), announced at the beginning of Juneto introduce counter-terrorism legislation later this year, but that will be after a process of consultation and after the Select Committee on Home Affairs and the Joint Committee on Human Rights have had an opportunity to examine our proposals. That will include an ability to share the detail of those proposals with Opposition parties and others. I certainly intend to continue with that commitment made by my predecessor.