The lesson for me from Iraq over the past quarter of a century, and from Syria and Libya more recently, is that intervention brings its problems, but so does non-intervention. If it was thought a year ago that the

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Syrian situation was difficult to unpick and resolve, it is surely worse today. The humanitarian situation in and around Syria is dire. Seven million Syrians have been displaced within Syria, and a further 3 million are now displaced outside Syria’s borders, which is causing instability in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

Some have said that we should work with Assad to help to defeat ISIL. I am not sure whether I agree with that. I think that we should tread carefully as far as the Assad regime is concerned, especially when we consider the fact that his regime has funded al-Qaeda and ISIL to destabilise Iraq, Syria’s neighbour to the south, and to divide his internal opponents. His sense of self-preservation is acute, and I am very concerned about playing his game.

ISIL is like fog: like the fog, it will only evaporate if heat is applied, but if left alone, it will continue to spread. We must degrade its military assets and leadership, but remain aware that its operation is now embedded in many communities, many of which it wants to destroy, and where civilians could become casualties by our own actions.

It was reassuring to see the NATO communiqué from last week that said:

“We condemn in the strongest terms ISIL’s violent and cowardly acts. If the security of any Ally is threatened, we will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to ensure our collective defence.”

As Benjamin Franklin said,

“We must all hang together. or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Last week in Wales the United Kingdom hosted the most important NATO summit in decades. More than 50 Heads of State were present, and it was the largest gathering of its kind in UK history. This shows the importance of the UK and its role in the world, and I do not want to see that role diminished. It is a role we have played for decades, if not centuries, and our liberal democracy has not hesitated to defend those values in the darkest of times. Bearing in mind the comments of the Chair of the Defence Committee, the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart), our diplomatic reach does reach parts of the world few countries can reach. English has become one of the international languages of diplomacy. Our influence in many parts of the world looks after our interests and promotes our values, and the BBC World Service is the envy of the world.

The then Foreign Secretary said in 2010 that

“our international influence will bleed away unless we maintain our international and cultural influence”

as a vital component of our weight in the world. I agree, but the key decisions to be taken by this country over the next three years could leave the country and our role in the world diminished.

If the Scottish people vote next week to leave the Union, and if there is a referendum on leaving the EU by the end of 2017 and we do so, how can this country—or what remains of it—be treated seriously as a world power if what we want to do is retreat from the world and we lack confidence on the world stage, because that would be the result? Those of us who believe in doing what is best for our national interests believe that dividing the Union of the United Kingdom and the union of Europe is clearly not in the national interest. If we go down that path, how long will it be before our permanent seat on the UN Security Council is brought into question?

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Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg address that he did not want to see

“government of the people, by the people, for the people…perish from the earth”,

but I think that if we are not careful with the decisions we make in the future for this country, that is what is going to happen.

4.27 pm

Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-on-Avon) (Con): I draw the House’s attention to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests and my co-chairmanship of the all-party group on the Kurdistan region in Iraq and vice-chairmanship of the all-party group on Iraq.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): May I just thank the hon. Gentleman for his sterling work in those areas?

Nadhim Zahawi: I am most grateful—and my head will not get through the double-doors if my hon. Friend carries on like that.

From Mosul to Raqqa, ISIL, at its root, has filled a void, both literally, in terms of governance, and philosophically, in terms of leadership. Here, it has thrived, and while it is our indisputable enemy—a primary security threat to our interests at home and abroad, as we have heard from many Members—a narrow focus on the tactical military solutions for defeating ISIL ignores the fact that the inherent problem is, at its heart, strategic.

We have heard a lot about the need for an inclusive political settlement in Iraq, but what does this really look like? We have been there before. During the Petraeus surge in 2007 we successfully mobilized Sunni tribes to purge al-Qaeda from their midst, but then we abandoned them to Nouri al-Malaki’s extreme sectarianism. How can we support Prime Minister Abadi to make things different this time around? While it is critical that “power sharing” no longer means the carving up of Government ministries into de facto sectarian fiefdoms, as happened under Maliki, or the centralisation of control in Baghdad—again, as Malaki did—ultimately the structure of governance has to give the Sunni tribes, the people on the ground, a personal investment in how they live. The new Cabinet has six new Sunni Ministers—possibly seven, including the Defence Minister—but do they truly represent wider constituencies of Sunnis? We must be mindful that the same faces keep reappearing.

It was positive to hear last night’s announcement of the formation of national guard units that will allow communities to secure their local areas. Such functional federalism and empowerment will be vital in reducing the lure of ISIL. Prime Minister Abadi must go further, however. He must consider having greater local autonomy and a fair political settlement that addresses the constitutional issues that have plagued Iraq since 2005. He must consider revenue sharing, a hydrocarbon law and a referendum on the disputed territories—including, of course, Kirkuk. Given former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s legacy, restoring trust will not be easy or quick, but if Prime Minister Abadi can bring about a genuinely inclusive political settlement with the Kurds and the Sunnis, half the battle will already have been won. Without such a settlement, however, a unified Iraq will be an impossibility.

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We must also recognize that ISIL cannot be defeated in Iraq alone. Syria, the regional safe haven for ISIL over the past three years, is the centre of gravity in this conflict, and it is there that a new push for peace is vital. Having said that, there are ways to do that and ways not to do it, and I can assure the House that aligning with Assad is most certainly not the way to do it. As in Iraq, the solution will be a new inclusive Government who ultimately reduce the appeal of Sunni extremism and who protect minorities, including the Alawites, the Kurds and the Christians of Syria.

To achieve that, the regional actors—including, dare I say it, Iran—must take the lead. We are all aware of the roles that different middle eastern countries have played in directly fuelling conflicts in the region, but the threat posed by ISIL and the unprecedented extent of shared interests between once-mortal enemies can only reinforce the need for the region to move beyond the zero-sum politics that have characterised it for so long. The motivations and limitations of the regional actors will no doubt determine the role that they play in the push-back against this poisonous ideology, but play a role they must. That is not to say that we should not be front and centre in helping them along. Undoubtedly the region looks to us, and to the United States, for leadership and delivery. Twenty years on, John Major is still held in the highest esteem by the Shi’a community and the Kurds for creating the safe haven policy and the no-fly zones.

Crucially, we must act with realism and humility. We must do all we can to support the delicate diplomacy needed to bring in regional partners without alienating others, and to facilitate Iranian and Saudi co-operation with a nuanced understanding of the dynamics and stakes involved.

Stephen Barclay: Does my hon. Friend agree that such leverage could be used in some of the existing disputes between the Baghdad Government and the Kurds?

Nadhim Zahawi: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. One of the things that Iran could bring to bear on Prime Minister Abadi’s Government in Baghdad is the resolution of such issues. The Kurds have not had their budgets since January, and they are struggling to keep their economy going while running the peshmerga campaign against ISIL. That situation could be resolved immediately. We should be playing a part by saying to Iran, “If your intentions are good and you want to behave differently, and if you want us to loosen the sanctions, show us your good intentions in Iraq and in Syria. Then maybe we will be able to take things further with you.”

There will be everything to play for, and there must be co-operation between these regional powers. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) mentioned our NATO allies. Turkey plays a major role in the region, as do partners such as Jordan. I commend His Majesty the King of Jordan for his attempts to bring all the parties together. He did that at the NATO conference as well. Foreign policy is often represented as a choice between instant reaction and quiet passivity, but that is a false dichotomy. We will always act on a spectrum as the environment evolves.

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4.34 pm

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): I wish to confine my remarks to the situation in Ukraine. I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi), and I will follow his example by beginning my speech by declaring an interest. I am an officer in the all-party group on Ukraine, although I must confess that I cannot remember which particular role I have.

I take it as axiomatic that our aim in Ukraine is to secure peaceful, democratic, political development in that country. By that standard, we are not doing very well. Of course President Putin, for his own internal and external reasons, has done and is doing everything he can to undermine those developments. None the less, I have some questions about the way the UK, as a country and as a member of the EU and NATO, has played its hand; there has been a lot of furious rhetoric but a lack of sombre analysis. The Russians have a strategic interest in a warm-water port in Crimea for the Black sea fleet—we do not. The Russians have a long and close history and relationship with Ukraine—we do not. There is a large Russian-speaking minority in the east of Ukraine, and we are not in that situation. That all means that when push comes to shove, in an open conflict, the Russians are going to be prepared to do more and to push harder than we have and ever would.

Indeed, it is clear that some in eastern Ukraine do not support the Kiev Government and have not supported the association agreement with the EU. Unfortunately, because of the Russian actions it is difficult for us now to see how many people in eastern Ukraine take that view. When I visited Ukraine a couple of years ago, it was clear that the country had weak civil society and weak political institutions. We saw that in the way the Kiev Government were dealing with the problems in eastern Ukraine; there was no proper dialogue but an attempt to impose people on, and control people in, eastern Ukraine. A deeply unsophisticated approach was taken of imposing oligarchs as governors in eastern Ukraine and refusing to listen. We need to look at things again.

During the demonstrations in Maidan square at the turn of the year, the European Union had a tendency to over-promise: to promise more than we have or than we will deliver. Our messages were confused and confusing. Of course, a large number of people and the Kiev Government wanted the EU association agreement, but why did it have to be rushed through in a way that for the Russians was highly confrontational? In July, the Ministry of Defence was briefing that Ukraine is regarded as virtually a member of NATO, which was unhelpful as it created uncertainty and unpredictability in respect of our potential actions in the minds of the Russians. We need to draw a clear distinction between the Baltic states, which are members of NATO, to which we have clear obligations and which have duties and responsibilities to the alliance, and Ukraine, which is not in that situation.

I am not entirely convinced that sanctions are as effective as the Foreign Secretary hopes they are.

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend give me some details of what she thinks are appropriate sanctions?

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Helen Goodman: One problem is that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mark Hendrick) has been saying, it is not clear that small changes in the income of particular individuals will matter very much to President Putin. Edward Lucas said that in his evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee. There is also a problem of corruption, which is not helped by the Tory party taking a lot of money from Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.

We need to move to a political process to strengthen the political dialogue. On Monday, the Prime Minister agreed that the Russians had legitimate interests in the area, especially in seeing that the Russian minorities are well treated and protected.

The Foreign Secretary talked about effective international monitoring. I am not clear whether he meant the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe or a UN-sponsored plebiscite. We need to know more clearly what the Foreign Office has in mind. What is absolutely clear is that the former British ambassador to Moscow, Tony Brenton, was right when he said that we should stop shouting and start talking.

4.40 pm

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): This has been a fascinating and informative debate. I am sorry only that the amount of time that we have to discuss these significant and important matters has been curtailed. I suppose that it is rather telling that—with great respect to those who are in the press gallery—the press gallery is virtually empty. I do not expect to read anything about this debate in the newspapers tomorrow because it will not be exciting or controversial. Perhaps the British people would be better informed if they knew that their Parliament was taking these things seriously.

As Members across the House have been saying, since 2010, we have been in a period of extraordinary turmoil. Since we completed our strategic security and defence review in 2010, fundamental changes have taken place across north Africa, the middle east and Ukraine. Nothing calls more for a really serious new strategic defence and security review than the state of affairs at the moment. I hope that the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and other Government Departments will put time and effort into producing a strategy. We were unable to do that in 2010 because we were up against the time scale of the comprehensive spending review.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), who has been banging on repeatedly about the need for strategic thinking. So much has changed since the fall of the Berlin wall. All the certainties with which I grew up, including the balance of terror, have all gone, and we have inherited a very turbulent world. My hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) made a compelling speech. He said that we need to invest more money in intelligence and in the Foreign Office; it is absurd that we invest so little in the Foreign Office and I hope that that will change.

Like the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman), I wish to refer to matters in Ukraine, as they are very serious and much closer to our borders than the important issues in Syria and Iraq. Personally, I want good relations with Russia

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Nadhim Zahawi: At the NATO summit an agreement was reached under which all member countries have to get their investment in defence up to 2% of GDP over the next 10 years. Does my hon. Friend think that that is adequate?

Sir Gerald Howarth: I would like member countries to get up to 2%. At least they will be fulfilling the commitments to which they have signed up. Clearly, the international situation is so demanding that we all need to review whether that is the correct level of expenditure. At the moment, NATO depends heavily on the contribution of the United States. The people of Britain and Europe must understand that American taxpayers have made a big contribution to our overall defence.

On the question of Ukraine and Russia, it is instructive to remind ourselves that, at the NATO-Russia Council meeting in 2002, Vladimir Putin said:

“Russia is prepared to act in accordance with international law, international rules in the course of a civilised dialogue for the achieving of common and joint ends.”

Indeed, in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear arsenal—the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world—the Budapest agreement, which was signed by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, said:

“The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine…to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

Those three nations reaffirmed their obligation

“to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.”

We have seen a flagrant breach of that agreement, which was signed by Boris Yeltsin, Bill Clinton and John Major. If Putin can simply renege on the agreements he has signed, what does that 2002 speech mean?

Russia now believes in the extraordinary and dangerous doctrine that it can intervene in other sovereign countries if it believes there is any threat to those who have Russian connections or who speak Russian. That is chilling. We should remind ourselves that, in The Daily Telegraph, the Russian ambassador wrote:

“With the rights of national minorities violated and the interests of regions disregarded, the people of Crimea found it necessary to determine their own political future by means of a referendum—and to do it fast.”

We know that it was Russian military intervention that took Ukraine. We need to be clear that there is no land link between Russia and Crimea at the moment. All that is going on in eastern Ukraine is designed to soften it up so that, at some point, Putin will come in, possibly link up with Odessa and Transnistria, and render the rump of Ukraine a landlocked country. They are very serious matters. We must make it clear to Russia that the Baltic states are subject to article 5. There can be absolutely no doubt about it. It is irrefutable that article 5 stands.

I am sorry that we have not had enough time to debate these matters. The Scottish referendum will take place next Thursday. With Russia penetrating our airspace and following our sea lanes, the idea that we should surrender a part of the United Kingdom and render it a foreign country and therefore not part of NATO—

Mr Speaker: Order. I call Mark Hendrick.

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4.47 pm

Mark Hendrick (Preston) (Lab/Co-op): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth). I will carry on in that vein. As he rightly said, Putin has reneged on the Budapest accord. To develop my argument, I will talk about Russia’s past and what will happen in future.

The UN estimates that, since the Russian annexation of Crimea in April, nearly 2,600 people have been killed in fighting between pro-Russian separatist rebels and the Ukrainian army in eastern Ukraine. The UN figure does not include the 298 passengers and crew of Malaysian Airlines MH17, which was shot down in the area by separatist rebels on 18 July.

Ukraine is not the first conflict to be frozen and it will not be the last. For some years, Russia has become increasingly uneasy about the expansion of both NATO and the European Union. As the EU has become bigger, Russia has seen the buffer of states between her borders and those of EU states dramatically reduced. In the north-east of the EU, they are non-existent. Many in Russia believe that the west reneged on an informal agreement in 1990 not to expand NATO eastwards. That misunderstanding or breach of trust is the basis for the current instability in eastern Europe.

It is not the first time Russia has used proxy forces to destabilise countries and create frozen conflicts. In 1992, during the break-up of the Soviet Union, the newly created country of Moldova was destabilised when its large ethnic Russian population of 200,000 people chose to break away and join Russia. As in Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists fought Government forces to a standstill. Russia committed 150,000 so-called peacekeepers to Transnistria. They are still there today. Transnistria held a referendum in 2006 similar to that we saw in Crimea, voting heavily in favour of joining Russia. The region’s status has still to be decided.

For Georgia, the current crisis in Ukraine and Crimea has clear parallels with its own conflict with Russia in 2008. After its application for NATO membership, ethnic Russian separatists rose up in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and there were reports of “unidentified troops” posing as local insurgents in Georgia’s separatist regions. Russia intervened under similar auspices, claiming the citizens’ right to self-determination, separation and Russian protection under international law. As in Moldova, the statuses of the two breakaway regions are still to be formally decided. Although they are so-called independent regions, they are effectively now as much a part of Russia as Crimea.

The current rebel advance has raised fears that the Kremlin may seek to create a land corridor between Russia and Crimea. As with Moldova and Georgia, analysts have speculated that Putin does not want a Crimea-style annexation, which would be expensive and militarily difficult, but instead wants to create a “frozen conflict” that would give Moscow permanent leverage in Ukraine. Only time will tell whether eastern Ukraine will be annexed, too.

I feel that the west has seriously misjudged Putin and does not seem to understand where he is coming from and what he hopes to achieve. In many Russian minds, Ukraine is a part of Russia. Putin has certainly reflected that view in public with recent press conferences referring to Ukraine as either little Russia or, in some cases,

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new Russia. He says that part of Ukraine’s territories are eastern Europe, but that the greater part are a gift from Russia.

Putin witnessed first hand the mismanagement of the Russian economy, open corruption and the economic hardships that the collapse of the USSR and market forces brought to Russia. It is with the period that saw the decline of the Soviet Union and of Russia in mind that Putin has said quite openly that he regrets

“the passing of the Soviet Union”

and that the blame for much of the past lies squarely at the feet of the west.

Article 5 of the NATO treaty considers an attack in terms of “armed force”, yet Russia is currently inciting an insurgency.

Sir Gerald Howarth: The hon. Gentleman is talking about the Baltic states. He will know that Kaliningrad is a part of Russia on the Baltic sea, surrounded by Poland and Lithuania. Does he fear that Russia might try to produce a land link between itself and Kaliningrad?

Mark Hendrick: I think that is perfectly possible and I concur with the hon. Gentleman. I think that, even though Ukraine is not an article 5 member of NATO, it poses many questions about NATO members, particularly the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Kaliningrad, like Crimea, is strategically very important to the Russians and if the west does not take strong action at some point, possibly going beyond sanctions, the west, particularly countries such as the UK, will suffer and might enter a third world war. The situation is far more serious than it has been painted. It is at least as serious as what is happening in Iraq and Syria for the stability and future of Europe. I hope that the west sees Putin for what he is and treats him not as a former economic Minister but as a former head of the KGB.

4.53 pm

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): I apologise to colleagues for having missed some of the Back-Bench speeches earlier due to an unbreakable commitment related to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

As was observed earlier, when my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) is thought about in defence terms the one word that will be associated with him will be “strategy”. When my political epitaph comes to be written, I guess most people would think that the one word that would be associated me would be “Trident”—or, if they were feeling kinder, it might be “deterrence”. Actually, a different word ought to be associated with what I am trying to outline in terms of strategy today: “containment”. Containment is the key to what we need to do in the two very different scenarios of Russia’s behaviour and ISIL’s behaviour. Containment sometimes has to be done by means of a balance of terror, as when dealing with a nuclear-armed state such as Russia. On other occasions, it has to be done with the more traditional concept of the balance of power, as when dealing with states such as those of the middle east. Containment by means of the balance of power often means active intervention.

Let me refer briefly to two scenarios. In the case of Russia and Ukraine, what Russia is doing is not new, as the hon. Member for Preston (Mark Hendrick) observed

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in his interesting speech. In fact, it is based on a model of what it did in the immediate aftermath of the second world war, when countries such as Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary were first subverted and then taken over. I have previously mentioned the important work of Professor Anatol Lieven in analysing the situation in Ukraine. Time prevents me from doing more than pointing out that he has consistently said that the only way in which a disaster will be averted is for some considerable degree of autonomy to be awarded to the Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine. If we try to egg on the other parts of Ukraine to win militarily, Russia will simply step up its military effort and the overall effect will be disastrous.

Helen Goodman: The hon. Gentleman is making a very powerful point, and I agree with him. Did he agree with the remarks of the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood), as I was somewhat alarmed to discover that I did?

Dr Lewis: Sadly, that is one of the Back-Bench speeches that I missed.

I am grateful, in any case, for the hon. Lady’s intervention, as it gives me a little more time to refer to the important point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth). There is a huge difference between NATO members that are covered by the article 5 guarantee and other countries, no matter how sympathetic we are towards them, that are not. When I was 16, Czechoslovakia was invaded. I thought what a shame it was that while Czechoslovakia was temporarily free we did not scoop up this poor vulnerable country under the protection of NATO. But I was 16 then—I am not 16 now, and I know the realities. I know that what was done in the aftermath of the second world war was nothing more than a recognition of the reality that the west could band together to protect itself by means of NATO, but it could not, at that stage, protect the countries of central and eastern Europe. Russia had to be contained by means of the balance of terror involving nuclear deterrence.

Let me quickly move on to ISIL. We are not in a situation where we have a choice of good outcomes. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) set out certain conditions in hoping for a good outcome in relation to the choices that face us. I hope they are right, but the likelihood is that there will be no good outcome in these confrontations—that no good guys are going to come out on top, but only somebody of the stripe of an Arab dictator, on the one hand, or revolutionary jihadists on the other.

That is where we move on to containment by means of a balance of power, whereby sometimes there is no ally to be helped and all we can do is try to ensure that no one of a bunch of undesirable actors on the international stage gets to be dominant. That is what we have to do in this case. That is why I gently disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex about the vote that we had last year. I am absolutely delighted to look back on the fact that I was one of the people who made sure that we did not intervene to drag down Assad, atrocious though he is, because the upshot of that would have been similar to that of dragging down

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Gaddafi. The effect of the latter was not to further western strategic interests but the interests of our deadly enemies on the jihadist front.

Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the crucial things in some of the recent military adventures in the middle east is, perhaps, a lack of understanding that once a dictator goes there is no Government structure or stability and that, therefore, the rule of law and everything else we love are not possible?

Dr Lewis: Absolutely. As always, my hon. Friend, with his Foreign Office background, makes the pertinent point. Thanks to his courtesy of giving me more time, I would like to quote a recent editorial from The Spectator:

“Such is the march of Islamic fundamentalism that if you remove a dictatorship in the Arab world and you don’t end up with a western-style liberal democracy, you end up with a snake pit of competing religious factions, the most malign of which tends to dominate.”

What we are up against is a choice of the lesser of evils. Sometimes we will have to strike down one element of an evil choice, and sometimes we will have to suppress another. We should not, however, climb into bed with the enemy of my enemy on either occasion. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend; the enemy of my enemy can be my enemy as well. That is why we have to contain and control them and intervene from time to time, but we must not delude ourselves that there will be any perfect outcomes.

5.1 pm

Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): I disagree with the hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) about the idea of containing ISIS, because allowing a caliphate, however small or large, to establish itself would pose a great threat to the neighbouring Arab countries.

Dr Lewis: I obviously did not make myself clear enough. I said that containment by balance of power often means active intervention, and at this stage it means active intervention against ISIS. I am sorry that I did not make that clear.

Mike Gapes: Perhaps we can talk about a different wording later.

When I was in Perth three weeks ago, I visited the Black Watch museum, and after that I visited Edinburgh, where I was struck by a very interesting exhibition on the role of Scottish troops and Scottish diaspora troops in the British imperial forces during the first world war. Is it not sad that an organisation is campaigning on an anti-British platform when, historically, the British imperial army was, and the British Army today is, very much rooted in the contribution of Scots to many of our country’s distinguished regiments? That is another aspect that those of us from England, Wales and Northern Ireland should remind our brothers and sisters in the rest of the United Kingdom about when they vote next week.

The end of the first world war, nearly 100 years ago, led to the treaty that resulted in the creation of a number of states. Turkey, which came out of the Ottoman empire, has already been mentioned, and others included

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countries on its borders, such as Syria, as well as Lebanon and Jordan, and countries further away, such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Later came the establishment of the state of Israel and the consequences that were touched on earlier.

The Kurds, who were scattered among up to three, four or five countries in the region, did not get a state at that time. Events in Iraq have led to the establishment of an embryonic state in the form of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, which has its own flag and defence forces—the very brave but poorly equipped peshmerga, who are fighting so hard and who are now, I am pleased to say, going to be armed by the United Kingdom, at last, as well as by other European partners.

There will be ramifications as a consequence of current events, because the PKK in Turkey and the PYD in Syria, which has been fighting against Assad, have been co-operating with the peshmerga to get the Yazidis and others off Mount Sinjar to safety. Yet we know that Turkey, Syria and Iran are very much against an independent Kurdish state, because of what the consequences would be. Therefore, a very complex development is going on.

Some people have said that the Sykes-Picot line, which was drawn on the map by French and British diplomats nearly 100 years ago, is dead. It is not yet dead, and we must be very careful. I believe that we may need a comprehensive international conference in the region at some point to redraw the boundaries.

Richard Graham: Does the hon. Gentleman not consider that in the current environment of having so much instability in the region, which he is describing very well, to give encouragement to any particular group—however strong their cause, however powerful their case—might simply be the trigger for a further round of instability? Would not the fact that all sorts of others might want to redraw the boundaries, however ineptly they were drawn 100 years ago, contribute to the instability that we want to contain?

Mike Gapes: The instability is already there. We have to face reality. Will Syria continue as a state, or will it disintegrate into three or four component parts? If we take on ISIL and defeat and destroy it, I suspect that we will do so in alliance with a coalition of forces. Some of those forces will be non-state actors: the actors will not just be the Governments of the region, but groups such as the PYD, which is currently in effect in control of parts of Syria.

Whether we are talking about creating loose confederations, which may well be the outcome of the political discussions in Baghdad and the internal dynamics in Iraq, or about the outcome of what is happening in Syria, we need a little bit of vision in our thinking about how we can create a longer-lasting international framework for dealing with the issues. I am not saying that this is something for today—the priority today is to build a coalition to defeat the people who want to take the world back 900 years to some mythical Islamist caliphate—but we ultimately need to be aware that some issues coming out of this situation will have to be resolved.

In relation to people who want to take things back to what they were—the role of the man who admires the Soviet Union and wishes to recreate parts of it has

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already been mentioned—Russia’s policy now is an attempt not just to turn the clock back a few years, but to recreate some form of Soviet Union-style Russia as it was in the past. The so-called Eurasian customs union is the Putin model to rival the successful European Union, which has acted as a magnet for all the countries of central and eastern Europe. At the same time, Putin is espousing the very dangerous doctrine that Russia has a right to intervene in the internal affairs of any country where there are people who speak Russian. Following that logic is a recipe for renewed conflict all across Europe and in other parts of the world, so we have to resist it and stop it.

5.8 pm

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): For too long, it seems to me, there has been an idea that dealing with problems in countries such as Syria and Ukraine is a matter for our leaders, while ordinary Back Benchers must follow. Well, that has changed. The history of Iraq shows how badly we were led, principally by Tony Blair and his apparatchiks. Going to war with Iraq was wrong and unnecessary. I am sorry to say that Tony Blair was not straight with this House or with the nation. Never again will we leave such decisions solely to our leaders.

There are three areas of the world over which we have great concerns. If we are not careful, we may get into military action without any clear objective. That has already been attempted—fortunately it failed—in respect of Syria.

In the Holy Land, there is an agreement of sorts between Israel and Palestine. Gaza is not a state, but neither is it allowed by Israel to be part of Palestine. It is ruled by a terrorist organisation, Hamas, with the consequences that we see each day—bombing, rockets and bloodshed. Although there are issues that we, the Egyptians and the Israelis agree on, the Palestinian militants have crackpot ideas, and hundreds of rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel. However, very few people are killed by those rockets, whereas approximately 2,000 innocent civilians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli offensives.

What is needed, as well as a lasting ceasefire, is a workable plan for the crossings into Israel and Egypt from Gaza by both land and sea. Gaza has a smaller land mass than the Isle of Wight but more than 1.8 million residents. Most of them are out of work because businesses can get few of their products out in order to sell them and local people do not have the money to buy things. I, like so many people, am concerned that we must find a more civilised way for innocent people to live, even if a terrorist gang is in charge. It is totally unacceptable that larger and larger developments by the Israelis are forcing many thousands of Palestinians from their homes.

Secondly, in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad no longer has control of the whole of his country. There was a movement in favour of democracy, but that has been overtaken by extremists, including Hamas and the much increased force of the so-called Islamic State, which is still more extreme. It has taken over a third of Syria and has moved into Iraq, murdering men and raping women and children of the Christian faith and other faiths who refuse to convert to Islam.

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It is tempting to believe that we and the United States are able to sort that mess out. The trouble is that there is no evidence to suggest that we could achieve that, unless the Syrians and Iraqis start to take action themselves. My conclusion is that there is little that we can do militarily that would be useful. We must encourage the Syrians and the Iraqis to take control of their own destiny.

Finally, in Ukraine, there is a ceasefire for the moment, but it might break down at any time. All but Crimea and three of the areas nearest to Russia are under the control of the Ukrainian people. For the moment, we are standing back. Ukraine is not part of NATO. My fear is that the EU will act as if Ukraine is part of the EU. That would be undemocratic and unacceptable.

All three areas are worrying, but peaceful negotiation is always preferable to war. As Churchill said, jaw-jaw is better than war-war.

5.14 pm

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner). We sit together on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, which produced an interesting document recently on Magna Carta. One of our proposals was that this country should never go to war without a vote in both Houses of Parliament. That is an interesting proposal. Now that it is a convention, I hope that it will be accepted in statute.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the Iraq war, and of course we do not know the truth of why we went into that war. We know that we were fed lies and all kinds of scares, such as that Britain could be attacked within 45 minutes using weapons of mass destruction that did not in fact exist. We still have yet to get the Chilcot report, which the Public Administration Committee discussed with Jeremy Heywood this week. We asked whether he was the blockage, because the Prime Minister has said that he is not stopping the report. All these years later, we do not know whether Tony Blair made an agreement with Bush that committed us to war, after which the House was forced into war based on a series of untruths. Some 179 British soldiers died in Iraq, and there were huge costs and uncounted Iraqi lives were lost.

I believe that we need to carry out another inquiry into our decision to go into Helmand province, which is arguably the worst military decision that we have taken since the charge of the Light Brigade. At the time, in 2006, we had lost only two British soldiers in combat in Afghanistan. We went into Helmand in the hope that not a shot would be fired, and we ended up with 453 soldiers lost in combat. Why did we do it?

Mr Baron: May I suggest that a key reason was mission creep? We allowed the mission to morph, disastrously, from one of taking on and getting rid of al-Qaeda to one of nation building, which was a completely different ball game. That was the fundamental error that we made in Afghanistan.

Paul Flynn: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I wrote to Tony Blair in 2003—the letter was on my blog and has been there ever since—saying, “If we go to war in Iraq without attempting to solve the Israel-Palestine problem, we will give a sense of injustice to Muslim

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communities from my local mosque to the far corners of the world.” At that time, we would not have thought it conceivable that young men and women educated and born here would go to the far east and take part in mediaeval barbarism. How did that happen? It is not about the imams, who have lost touch with the young people. It is about the internet and the flow of information that young people have. The sense of injustice has deepened since 2003. There was not the same division at that time. There were a few fanatics, and al-Qaeda existed, but there was minute support for it. Now it takes support from a huge percentage of the young Muslim population. That is deeply worrying, and we have to see the reason for it.

How we take decisions is an important issue. The most important decision that we have taken recently, of course, was on 29 August last year. Having watched how we go to war, I suggest that we must stop trusting the wisdom of Prime Ministers. They do not behave in a normal fashion on such matters. They are overwhelmed with hubris and talk in a different way, digging out the Churchillian rhetoric. They walk in a different way—they strut like Napoleon. I have seen it here time and again. They are not dealing with petty issues about taxes; here is their great moment. They are writing their page in history, and it is usually a bloody page. They are not rational, as Anthony Eden was not rational when he went into the Suez war. We are far better trusting the pooled wisdom of 650 MPs than listening to and following a hubristic Prime Minister.

We have had an interesting debate, and the two speeches that I have warmed to more than any others were those of the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) and the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke). We know that, incredibly, there is a fairly even spread in the House between the peace party and the “give war a chance” party. Even Labour Members have said that we should not be imprisoned by history. Of course we should be imprisoned by history—we should learn from it, because we have nothing else to go on from which to learn lessons.

I am grateful to the Government for holding the NATO summit in Newport, in my constituency. It was possible a grudging and belated acknowledgment of the wisdom of the local MP on foreign affairs matters. It was a great occasion, and I was particularly pleased by the decisions on the Baltic states. In ’89, ’90 and ’91 I had the pleasure of going to the three Baltic states and watching their struggle for independence. It was a great campaign: intelligent, courageous and restrained. It was difficult to win that independence, and they are frightened now—particularly Latvia and Estonia—because they have a large percentage of mother-tongue Russians. We owe it to them to be behind them and guarantee their independence.

5.20 pm

Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) (Con): It is, as ever, a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn), and I too welcome this debate. I would like more of these debates—I am sure I am not alone in that—not only because a lot is happening on the international stage that directly affects our interests, global possessions and so forth, but because it is important that those on the Front Benches are in touch with the mood of Back Benchers across the House. It is in their

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common interest to ensure that we minimise the chances of a vote taking place like the one that happened a year ago. More communication is good; we need more debates of this sort, and that this debate has been so oversubscribed illustrates that point well.

In the brief time available I will confine my remarks to ISIS and perhaps to what I consider to be the dilution of skills within the FCO—something that should concern us all. The Government are right to make a commitment that there will be no air strikes in Iraq unless that has been debated in this House and approved. They were also right to exhibit the cautious approach that they have shown to date, which is to be welcomed. We have heard it said many times that Iraq casts a long shadow, and the bar for military action has been raised. There is no doubt about that in the House, but I contend that it is not a bad thing, given the number of errors we have made in the region over the past 10 to 12 years.

I take issue with those who suggest—we have heard this quite a bit in the Chamber today—that by exhibiting a cautious approach and voting against action in Syria last year, Britain is somehow retreating from the world, or that we wish to bury our heads in the sand and do not want to play any more on the world stage. That is utter tosh. We are a key member of the UN Security Council and of NATO, and a prominent member of the Commonwealth. We are not retreating from the world, but if a slightly more cautious approach is needed, that is surely how it should be in this place, when the most serious decision we can make in this House is whether to send troops to war—a decision that costs lives and can result in great expense in both lives and treasure.

We have only to look back at our recent track record. There can be no denying that we went to war on a false premise in Iraq in 2003. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Fact: we went to war on a false premise. Some may dispute this, but I think that a key error—this was referred to by the hon. Member for Newport West—was in Afghanistan. We all agreed with the initial narrow objective of ridding Afghanistan of al-Qaeda. That was laudable and we supported it. It went wrong when we allowed the mission to morph into one of nation building, which was a much broader aim that we fundamentally under-resourced.

David Tredinnick (Bosworth) (Con): I am listening carefully to my hon. Friend and thinking about the vote last year, when regrettably I was not able to support the Government. Listening to my hon. Friend, I would say that the problem was that chemical weapons could be moved around very easily, and so as a military objective it was not very satisfactory.

Mr Baron: I agree. Technically, the motion was about that, but there was also a push last year by the Government to arm rebels fighting Assad. However, because it would have been impossible to track and trace those arms, some of them would have ended up, inadvertently, in the hands of the very extremists we are now taking on in northern Iraq—a bitter irony if ever there was one.

Dr Julian Lewis: It was precisely for that reason that my hon. Friend and I made common cause against the folly of that intervention. On Afghanistan, does our

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policy not tend to be too reactive to the last thing that happened? It was said that as soon as the Soviets left, the west left Afghanistan to stew in its own juices. It was to prevent that from happening again that the west made the bad mistake, as it turned out, of engaging in nation building.

Mr Baron: I pay tribute to the work of my hon. Friend and others on both sides of the House in asking those difficult questions a year ago. We were right to do that. He is absolutely right about Afghanistan as well.

The litany of errors does not stop with Afghanistan. We now have the Libyan Government meeting on a Greek ferry off Tobruk; there is civil war; the number of civilian casualties is shooting up; and we have not got a proper policy. I certainly do not think our intervention helped the situation. We have now discussed Syria, and it is clear that the Government’s intentions to arm the rebels were misplaced, given that it would have been impossible to track and trace the arms. Our bigger issue is now taking on in Iraq some of the rebels who confronted Assad.

It is right to be cautious and to ask questions, and it is right that the bar has been set higher. I am pleased that Ministers realise the difference between air strikes in Iraq, which many of us could support, provided certain preconditions were in place, including a request from the Baghdad Government, and air strikes in Syria, which would be a much higher risk policy, not only because of Russian-built air defences, but because of the legalities and the fact that a common feature of the Syrian civil war has been the extremist groups lurking in the shadows and morphing into each other—al-Nusra, linked to al-Qaeda, for example—and would be difficult to say who might take ISIS’s place in Syria.

I welcome the caution. At the end of the day, the politics in Iraq must succeed. The elephant in the room is the Iraqi army. It has to be ground forces that defeat ISIS—air strikes alone will not succeed—but they must not be western. The symbolism of the west defeating this caliphate would be too great. The Iraqi army is the elephant in the room, but the politics must come through and succeed. What fomented the presence of ISIS was the very sectarian politics pursued by Maliki, the predecessor of the current Government. We must have more inclusive politics in Iraq, but at the same time we have to ensure that the army drives out ISIS.

5.28 pm

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): In the five minutes available to me, I want to make three points and ask one specific question that I hope the Minister will reply to.

We are meeting in the shadow of the end of the NATO Heads of Government conference, and although I am sure it was a magnificent affair for the many Heads of Government and other putative members of NATO who attended, I think we should have a much more nuanced view of what NATO is about and what it has become. It did not shut up shop at the end of the cold war, sadly; instead, it cast around for something to do, and has now sought and obtained for itself a global role. Collectively, its member states already spend $1 trillion a year on arms, and according to the Wales declaration, many states that do not quite meet the 2% minimum requirement will have to increase their spending.

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Paul Flynn: Does my hon. Friend agree that NATO is a chameleon organisation? It was belligerent and bad under Bush, but benign and peace-seeking under Obama?

Jeremy Corbyn: I think that is an incredibly generous description of how NATO is behaving under President Obama, although it certainly was belligerent under Bush.

NATO’s endless eastward expansion has encouraged an equal and opposite reaction on the other side, in Russia. Although I am not a defender of Putin or, indeed, of Russian foreign policy, one has to say that if there was a general agreement that Ukraine should be a neutral, non-nuclear state, the presence of NATO forces in Ukraine and joint exercises with Ukrainian forces were likely to encourage the Russian military to do the same across the border. If we want to see peace in the region, as we all do, surely there has to be demilitarisation and a process that brings about a peaceful reconciliation in Ukraine, if that is at all possible. Instead, what I hear all the time is the ratcheting up of the military options on both sides, with more and more exercises and more and more overflying.

This is a very dangerous situation that could indeed lead to some dreadful conflict. I want to sound a note of caution about it and also draw attention to the fact that NATO now gives itself the right to involve itself in any part of the world, at any time, through its rapid reaction force. Indeed, the Prime Minister wanted to bring another 33 countries on board. A global military power that can go in anywhere is not necessarily a good thing; indeed, it can provoke all the opposition and all the problems that we are discussing in today’s debate.

The question I want to put to the Minister—to which I hope I will get a reply either today or in writing—is this. The mutual defence agreement between Britain and the USA on the sharing of nuclear information, originally signed in 1958, comes up for renewal this year. There is no date set for Parliament to debate it, and apparently the Government do not seem terribly keen on that, yet President Obama sent a message to Congress on 24 July saying that he approved of the renewal of the agreement and hoped that Congress would approve it. If it is good enough for Congress to debate the mutual defence agreement, surely it is good enough for us to debate it as well.

Helen Goodman: Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the best ways to bring down conflict, tension and the international temperature is to be predictable? These unclear mandates lead to uncertainty and unpredictability.

Jeremy Corbyn: Indeed, and the daily dangers from the situation in Ukraine and eastern Europe are pretty obvious for everyone to see. I hope we can think more carefully about this, rather than rushing more and more troops, more and more arms and more and more missiles into the area, and instead try to search for a political solution, difficult as I obviously recognise that to be.

I want to make two other points. This morning a number of us went to Room 14 to hear a statement from Dr Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestine National Initiative. He showed us a short film that was appalling, shocking and horrible. All I was seeing were pictures of buildings in Gaza that I have visited and known. They are all ruined, and there are 2,000 people dead and many families completely bereft of everything. The

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bitterness from that bombing by Israel continues and will continue for a very long time. Surely there should have been a response by the British Government on this. It is not good enough just to talk about Israel’s right to exist and its right to self-defence. There was a total disproportionality about the whole conflict. More than 2,000 Palestinians are dead; sadly, 100 Israelis are dead. I wish no one had died from that conflict, but unless we address the rights of and justice for the Palestinian people—their right to nationhood, their right to recognition, their right to travel, their right to trade; all those things—and instead keep them in prison in Gaza, this will all break out again in the not-too-distant future and we will have a renewal of all the horrible bloodletting that has happened over the past month.

There was a massive lobby of Parliament yesterday by supporters of Palestine. On 9 August, 150,000 people came on a demonstration in London to show their solidarity with people under bombardment. It is up to us, as one of the authors of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which is the antecedent of many of these problems, to be prepared politically to do something about the problem, at the very least by suspending all military arrangements with Israel. Although I recognise that that will not solve the problem, it would at least send a significant political message.

My final point in my remaining minute is simply this. I have been a Member of this House long enough to have discussed the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war, the Libya conflict and indeed, before that, the Gulf war. I am no supporter, sympathiser, apologist or whatever for ISIL—for what it stands for, what it does, what its methods are or for its current threat and attacks on the Kurdish people. Surely, however, some basic understanding of history will recognise that our interventions and our behaviour—American interventions, American behaviour—have created the circumstances in which ISIL has grown up. The money now going into the region for arms—from Saudi and other sources—as well as all the other weapons going in are a major cause of the current conflict within Iraq. Let us learn the lesson: intervention everywhere is surely not the solution; the solution is working with people on development and bringing about peaceful solutions to problems rather than the obsession with taking military intervention around the world.

5.35 pm

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for calling me to speak in this debate on the middle east and security matters. I am sorry that I have been nipping in and out of the Chamber.

It is important to get my concerns on the record, and I will be brief. I am greatly concerned about the impact that events in the middle east are having on our country, and about how these events are being perverted to give license to hate. As a tolerant society, we cannot tolerate British people hating British people on the basis of the faith they are born into or choose to follow. I am deeply disturbed by the personal letters I have received from a number of my Jewish constituents—I have only 250 of them—expressing their distress at what the future holds in the UK for them and their families.

These are British citizens who have as much to do with the middle east as I do. It is not right that synagogues now have to be protected by security guards and that

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banners are being seen and chants are being heard that say, “Kill all Jews”, “Hitler was right” and “Death to all Jews”. This situation is not tolerable. There are no excuses.

Mr Burrowes: I totally agree with my hon. Friend, and he is certainly right to raise issues about our Jewish constituents in this debate about security. The issue goes further than the physical threats. For the first time in my surgery, I encountered a family that is now fearful of its children going on a public bus to a Jewish school, or even of them going alone into the local Asda or Tesco. The family thinks how they look will give an indication of their being Jewish and that people will take an anti-Semitic view.

Mr Walker: I am aware of those concerns; they are shared by members of the Jewish faith in my constituency.

The cancer of anti-Semitism is stalking our country under the disguise of a new cloak. This cloak must be stripped away, exposing the wickedness of those who lurk behind it. I am no saint in these matters. We all have the weakness to give in to the easy seduction of hate, so it is incumbent on us all to recognise the siren calls of that weakness and keep them in check.

In coming here today, I do not want to stand behind my Jewish constituents; I do not want to stand beside them; I want to stand in front of them. I say this: if I had Christian constituents, Hindu constituents or Muslim constituents who felt threatened as a result of their faith or colour, I would stand in front of them as well.

5.38 pm

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this thoughtful debate. I will start my brief remarks with a reflection on Ukraine.

Russia is undoubtedly breaching international law and its previous commitment to non-interference in Ukraine’s affairs. I want to make it crystal clear that I condemn President Putin’s hostile actions and violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. We do, however, have to understand better what is going on in that area if we are de-escalate the situation and find the solutions that we seek. Russia has long been suspicious of western intentions on its borders, and it fears encirclement. The history and culture of Ukraine and Russia are inextricably bound together. In this context, no Russian Government would coolly accept the drawing of Ukraine into the EU or NATO.

Extremely experienced and respected commentators and ex-diplomats, including Sir Roderic Braithwaite and Sir Brian Barder, have observed that the west has badly mishandled relations with both Ukraine and Moscow with irresponsible talk of EU and NATO membership. Members of the European Parliament will vote next week on whether to ratify the EU-UK association agreement. I think we should be deeply uneasy about actions and statements that suggest a wish to draw Ukraine into NATO or the EU at a time when that will only escalate tensions.

Jeremy Corbyn: Does the hon. Lady agree that at the time of Ukraine’s independence at the end of the Soviet Union it became specifically a non-nuclear power, and specifically sought to be neutral-ish within the region

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and to pursue a peaceful course? Does she not think that that is something that we should have respected, and should respect now?

Caroline Lucas: I absolutely believe that that is at the heart of the problems that we are facing. The association agreement requires Ukraine to steadily approximate its legislation to that of the EU, a process to be monitored and even enforced by the EU. It sets up a political dialogue designed explicitly to

“promote gradual convergence on foreign and security matters with the aim of Ukraine’s ever-deeper involvement in the European security area.”

That is not compatible with what my hon. Friend has just described, namely the understanding and settlement for Ukraine in the past. I believe that at a time of such heightened tension, this agreement is inflammatory and divisive.

Martin Horwood: Does the hon. Lady accept that there are neutral countries in the European Union, including Ireland, and that that does not imply any kind of military threat to Russia? Does she accept that the Budapest memorandum was actually about the giving up of nuclear weapons—it did not particularly mention any alliances—in return for the guarantee of the respecting of Ukraine’s existing borders and its independence, which Russia has clearly breached?

Caroline Lucas: There is no doubt that Russia has clearly breached that, and I absolutely condemn Russia as much as anyone else in the House, but I also think that the EU has been particularly provocative in the actions that it has taken and in the language in the association agreement. In my view, to suggest that Ukraine has a chance of joining the EU or NATO undermines the agreement that was made in the past.

In Washington, hawks in Congress are shouting about appeasement, and demanding action such as a NATO rapid reaction force to be deployed across eastern Europe to deter Moscow. Meanwhile, Britain is planning to send troops to Ukraine for exercises. I seriously question whether those actions will have the desired effect. The best instrument for co-operation and peace must be the UN Security Council. By definition, that must include Russian involvement, and must take account of Russia's interests and fears in its own backyard. I share the view that we should declare that Ukrainian membership of either the EU or NATO is not on the cards, and never will be. That might help to calm the situation, and it would be no more than a recognition of geopolitical reality. At the same time, Russia must stop seeing the world in zero-sum terms, and must stop seeing Ukraine as an extension of Russia.

There are many reasons why it is in Europe’s best interests to re-engage with Russia, and not the least of those is the rise of the vicious and barbaric terrorism in the middle east. That is why I believe that we should be very concerned about what is happening in the context of the rise of ISIL. On Monday, the Prime Minister rightly said:

“Britain is clear that we need to oppose not only violent extremists, but the extremist narrative.”—[Official Report, 8 September 2014; Vol. 585, c. 660.]

If we are to halt the influence of ISIL’s vile narrative, we would do well to try to better understand it, and to understand why it appeals to some disenchanted and

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marginalised young men. Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford university’s peace studies department, who is a specialist in international security and politics, points out that ISIL and others like it make effective use of western foreign policy to advance their warped message of a western expansionist “far enemy” intent on destroying Islam. ISIL does not care about consistency, justice, human rights or international law, but it has been very adept at exploiting any double standards on our part—such as the illegal invasion of Iraq, and such as continuing support for the Israeli Government despite ongoing breaches of international law, repeated horrific and disproportionate attacks on Gaza, and, now, the biggest land grab in the occupied territories for 30 years.

Double standards are wrong in themselves, but the fact they are exploited by ISIL is another reason, if it were needed, to ensure that we have a foreign policy with—dare I say—an ethical dimension. I do not believe that there is a “quick fix” military response that will defeat the likes of ISIL. Its ideology and influence need to be undermined, and airstrikes will do the opposite. That is precisely why ISIL is goading us to invade with its terrible, barbaric beheadings. That analysis is backed up by Richard Barrett, the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, who warns that western military action would precisely play into IS hands and would, in a sense, be a recruiting sergeant for it. Airstrikes are sometimes promoted as some kind of intervention-light, whereas we know there is really no such thing—that precision accuracy is in reality all too often not precise. As ISIL well knows, those bombs often result in civilian deaths, which would greatly assist the extremists’ long-term recruitment drive. I completely understand the desire to do something, as people are being murdered, starved and raped, but we must not make things worse.

In the short term, the Red Cross principle of impartial aid to all victims of armed conflict must now dominate as our model for humanitarian intervention, not the doctrine that we must pick one side and help it. Moreover, our diplomatic efforts must intensify, and I want to know what progress has been made on working with Turkey, given the major concerns that ISIL is selling stolen oil through the Turkish border. What pressure are we putting on the Gulf regimes like Saudi Arabia—and surely that is compromised when, as I discovered in an answer received just today to a parliamentary question, it transpires that we have more than 200 civil servants from the MOD working for the Saudi Government?

Then there is Qatar, from which funds are often channelled to extremist groups, yet this is the same Qatar to whom we also sell millions of pounds-worth of weaponry. Surely we have more leverage than just calling Qatar “unwise” as the Prime Minister did on Monday—not forgetting that Qataris own a large portion of Sainsbury’s, a chunk of the London Stock Exchange, and London’s iconic Shard. We must continue to work with Iran, too.

Then, as I have said, there is also Russia. Unless we change our stance on what is happening in Russia and Ukraine, the possibility of working with Russia to try to stem extremism in the middle east will be massively undermined.

5.46 pm

John Howell (Henley) (Con): I came to this debate to listen to what was being said, and I have to say that I was deeply impressed by the speech of my right hon.

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Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox). I was one of those who stood up in eastern Europe to defend our values. I was one of those who stood up for the values of tolerance, freedom of speech and particularly the rule of law. In this speech, I want to take us back to the situation in Israel and Gaza, notwithstanding that there is a ceasefire, which continues to hold. I also want to draw attention to my entries in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

The trouble with saying anything about the Israel-Gaza situation is that unless we come out immediately as pro-Palestinian, we are put down as just listening to pro-Israeli military propaganda. This is both untrue and misses the point. Nothing I say is going to be anti-Palestinian, but what I say is going to be completely anti-Hamas.

I have no sympathy for Israel when it comes to the building of settlements. The Foreign Secretary has already condemned this and I agree with him, and I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to think again, but it would be wrong to address the situation in the middle east without condemning Hamas. It would be too easy to be dismissive of the role of Hamas in the current conflict, preferring to take a one-sided view of what Israel can do, rather than also round on Hamas. I am well aware of the history of the region. I have been in the region during a period of Hamas rocket attacks. In fact, I think I was in Jerusalem when Hamas fired its first rocket in that direction.

We should not forget that this conflict came about as a result of Hamas firing rockets at Israel. I cannot see that it does any good to claim that this is not so. Hamas launched over 4,000 rockets in the recent period. It does no good to claim simply that these were homemade rockets when so many were Iranian in origin. What does this say about those who call for an arms embargo against Israel while allowing Hamas still to receive these rockets—these rockets that bring so many in the region within their reach? I cannot see that it does any good to claim that few of these fell in Israel or that Iron Dome protected Israel, as if simply having the means of protection was itself a crime. Nor does it do any good to see this as a numbers game. We all want to see an end to the killing, but totting up how many have been killed does not provide a justifiable comparison. If we simply descend into a one-for-one argument, we descend into an area into which I, for one, would be ashamed to go.

We cannot achieve any results without looking at the tactics of either side. Hamas effectively uses the civilian population as a shield for its rockets and as a safe haven from which to fire those rockets. We have already seen it using United Nations schools and a medical facility to store rockets. Hamas was described by a constituent as a

“brutal and anti-Semitic group which has been accused by Amnesty International and other NGOs of human rights abuses against the people of Gaza and of war crimes.”

The shocking images of 22 Palestinians being lined up to be shot for allegedly supporting Israel should have sent shivers down the spines of those watching. This all demonstrates that the solution to Gaza does not lie in a Hamas-controlled state. I remain convinced that the region needs a two-state solution. Israeli attempts to build more settlements are admittedly not the way forward, but neither is a situation that includes Hamas in its current position.

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5.51 pm

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): It is a pleasure to be called to speak in this important debate. During the summer, I was contacted by hundreds of constituents from across Oldham and Saddleworth—the two very distinct parts of my constituency—who were appalled by what was happening in Gaza and Israel. The inter-faith forum comprising all religious groups in my constituency mounted a petition that amassed more than 8,300 signatures in six days. It was presented to Downing street during the recess, and it called for Parliament to be recalled to debate the crisis facing Gaza and Israel. Many of my constituents were hugely disappointed that the Government did not believe a recall was warranted.

We have already heard about the tragedy of the loss of life over the past few weeks, in Gaza in particular but also in Israel. This comes two years after the previous violence in the area. After the 2012 bombardment of Gaza, I was as appalled as many other hon. Members were, and I wanted to go and see for myself exactly what was happening. It was a moving experience, and it has left me with strong views. Consequently, I was disappointed that the Prime Minister did not feel able to condemn the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by Israel. That was highly regrettable and a huge mistake. We should be able to stand up to our friends and tell them when we disagree with them.

The Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mr Alexander) have rightly said that a Palestinian child’s life is worth no less than that of an Israeli child. However, those are only warm words unless they are backed up by action. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) has rightly pointed out that much of the anger felt by our young people nationally and internationally is a result of the perceived injustice of no action being taken. Nothing is being done. We could not even recall Parliament. What message does that send? What does that make politics look like to ordinary people? It really is appalling.

We must obviously welcome the peace that we now have, but history shows us that it will be sustained only if there is international pressure from Egypt and other neighbours as well as from us and, in particular, from the United States. Many have called for an investigation into whether the UK has supplied arms and components in this area. I was interested in what the Foreign Secretary said about there being no evidence for that, but I would like to see the details published. Until we have sustainable peace across the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, there should be an arms embargo from the UK.

Paul Flynn: Does my hon. Friend agree with the statement made that Israel is indifferent to opinion in this country and in many other countries because it is shored up by public opinion in the United States? Is it not time for us to make a stand against Israel and tell it that it has gone too far?

Debbie Abrahams: I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. The EU association agreement with Israel and the preferential trade terms should also be re-examined. The UK’s trade with Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestinian territory is not only illegal under international law, but a barrier to long-term peace. One way people get around

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the law is by mislabelling products. I was really disappointed by the response I received from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on that issue. I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to say in her response to this debate how we are monitoring that and ensuring that the law is enforced.

The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden) have both made important points about the inconsistency of our approach, which relates to the injustice that people perceive is meted out by us. There is such a difference in our approach to different areas. Sanctions against Russia are well deserved, but why is the same not happening in respect of Israel? We need to be able to explain that.

In the long term, we must press the Israeli Government to be brave and take action on the settlements built by Israelis on Palestinian land. The most recent encroachment, days after the agreed peace deal, was most unhelpful, to say the least. Israel must also lift the blockade on Gaza, as stipulated in the peace agreement. We must also demand that Israel ends the discriminatory approach of its law. One law is applied to Israeli children and another is applied to Palestinian children. That is outrageous. We should be demanding more, not just from Israeli leaders, but from the Palestinian leaders of Hamas and Fatah, as they are not blameless. Leaders on both sides have let down their people, but there is hope and I believe that ordinary people will prevail. I was sincerely moved by the real desire of ordinary Palestinians and Israelis for peace. In the long term they will prevail.

5.57 pm

James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con): A network of terror is evolving across the middle east and it poses an existential threat to British and western interests both there and here at home. ISIL is just the most recent example of a network of terror that has been evolving over many years and which we need to confront. ISIL is operating out of Syria and northern Iraq, but there are also state-sponsored terrorist organisations, which have not been mentioned extensively in this debate, such as Hezbollah and Hamas. So the terror networks we face are diverse and they often have competing priorities.

What would be an appropriate western response to the threat of ISIL? I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) that it is almost as though we have lost the institutional capability to analyse what is going on in the world. Because of global networks and the rapidity with which information is disseminated on the internet, we need to up our game in terms of understanding what is happening on the ground. Our response has to be multi-level, coherent and concerted, because this threat is complex and evolving, and in order to confront it we need to change our mindset.

In that context, what constitutes an appropriate response? It is right that we consider using British military air power, if required, but that needs to be done in the context of building alliances with other Gulf states to support the peshmerga and the Iraqi armed forces on the ground, in order to defeat ISIL on the physical battlefield. It is critical that we recognise that there is not only the physical battlefield but a digital one, which

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requires as much energy to confront. The battle against the networks is being played out on the internet and in cyberspace. It is a mistake to view ISIL purely as some kind of mediaeval phenomenon. Although it might be promulgating a mediaeval philosophy, the group understands the potential of the digital world to disseminate its message, the power of viruses on the internet and how to manipulate global opinion.

As I have said, the theatre of this war is not just physical but digital, and ISIL’s capability in that area will only improve and expand. We need to ensure that our response is equally flexible. We must be clear about the values that we want to promulgate on social networks. We want to encourage moderate groups, which believe in peace and in moving this situation forward.

We need to confront the evil ideology of ISIL through the use of our soft power and to understand how we can use those networks in a way that confronts ISIL and those who wish to use social networking to disseminate their message. We need to use our soft power to come up with political solutions that people in the region can buy into and that take us forward.

As other Members have said, we must not be trapped by history. We need to learn the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we must not be paralysed by past mistakes. We should recognise that the circumstances and the conditions that we now face are very different from those 10 years ago. It is important that we are clear about the values that we want to assert in the world. There is a perception, which has been building over time, that the west is retreating. It is felt that the US is retreating from the world and that, because of the vote that we had in the House of Commons last year, the UK is too. But it is a perception. We must not retreat. We must prepare ourselves, be flexible and be ready for a long haul.

6.2 pm

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I apologise profusely for being out of the debate for most of the afternoon. I heard the speeches by the Front Benchers and then I had to attend a meeting at the Home Office about the data retention Bill.

I wish to discuss the issues that have been brought to my attention by my constituents. I will try not to repeat the points that I have heard. All sides of the argument have been eloquently made. I want to focus on Syria and Iraq. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) has been in the House longer than me, but I have been here for 17 years, and on each occasion that we have discussed intervening in another country, there has been early consideration of the legality of such a move. I remember the discussions that we had on Iraq, and the elaboration of the just war theory, which comes all the way down from Thomas Aquinas.

Under the just war theory, before we enter into military action of any sort, particularly in another country, there has to be just cause, appropriate legal authority, proportionality, and the action should be taken in the last resort. Those are just some elements of the just war theory. I am anxious that we are taking the next step towards military intervention in Iraq and Syria without full cognisance of our legal position. Is there a just cause for an intervention at this stage by this state—the United Kingdom—when there are other parties that could be acting?

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With regard to legal authority, I hope that whatever action we take we commit ourselves to ensuring that it is done through the United Nations with an appropriate resolution. No action should be taken unless there is the appropriate resolution. That was the problem with Iraq that caused such division both in our community and throughout the world.

I am concerned that we seem to be rushing fairly quickly to an extensive bombing campaign. No bombing campaign is based on precision bombing. We have seen that time and again, in every intervention in the past century. Proportionality was introduced to protect civilians but, in the bombing campaigns we have waged in recent years, there has been no protection of civilians.

That leads us to the question of who should undertake action if action is taken. There is an excellent article by Sunny Hundal on the Labour List website—I mention that because it contains many of my own thoughts and I do not want him to accuse me of plagiarism. UK engagement is exactly what ISIS wants. It wants the US, the UK and other western countries to invade Iraq and kill civilians, because that would unite radical Sunni elements in the middle east against such intervention. Sunny’s second point, which I fully agree with, is that ISIS would want to ally us with Assad, or even elements of the Assad regime if he goes. That, too, would unite radical Islamist forces against the west. As Sunny points out, ISIS would want the symbolism of the UK linking up with the US yet again to invade or threaten to take military against a Muslim country. I fear that UK involvement will mean that we have fallen into the trap that ISIS has set us.

If in accordance with just war theory there is a sound reason or a just cause for intervention, if it is the last resort and if it is a humanitarian intervention, I plead that the UK is not part of it. I agree with other hon. Members that other states in the region have a responsibility to act. They also have the resources to act. They have the military resources because we have sold them those resources. In recent years, Europe has sold Qatar €200 million-worth of military hardware. We have sold Jordan €34 million-worth of military hardware. Saudi Arabia has had €2,264 million in military exports.

Jeremy Corbyn: Is my Friend aware that Saudi Arabia has possibly the worst human rights record in the region? It is unclear where many of the weapons that are sold to Saudi Arabia end up.

John McDonnell: The whole argument was that the weapons were sold to Saudi Arabia so that they could be used in its defence, and to ensure that in the region it has a military presence that can effect the suppression of violence and the maintenance of peace. We have sold those weapons to those states, and it is now their responsibility to intervene on a humanitarian basis if necessary within the region. I agree that bombs usually do nothing more than elicit more violence; my hon. Friend has made that point in the past. Therefore, we should ensure that we supply humanitarian aid to the region.

Like other hon. Members, I was lobbied all summer on Gaza. We had a meeting of 200 people in my constituency, which mobilised with the 100,000 on the demonstration. People tell me that British citizens fight not just in the Palestinian cause and elsewhere in the

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middle east, but for the Israel defence force. I would like to know from the Home Secretary what action will be taken with regard to their passports, and what action will be taken against them when they seek to return to this country.

6.8 pm

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): May I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the register, not least as an unremunerated director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding?

I want to make two central points in the time available to me. First, the mission is clear. The mission of the international community should be to destroy the Islamic State. It would be a humanitarian action. Its behaviour and the appalling terror it has meted out in the area it controls comfortably jumps that hurdle. Having said that, the response must come from the international community, under the authority of a resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations. For obvious reasons, it should be seen not as a western intervention against Islamic State but as one that involves the nations of the region. In that sense, it is essential to have the engagement of Iraq and Syria as the areas of the battlefield on which this war must be fought and won, and the neighbouring nations of Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia must be part of the coalition.

We cannot just fight this war in Iraq because Syria has an air defence system under the control of someone with whom we do not want to do business, because then we will not achieve our mission and destroy Islamic State. In this complex area, we will, at the same time, have to force a settlement, as far as is possible, between Assad, the Free Syrian Army and the moderate constitutional forces of political Islam that are ranged against him. That means getting the Geneva process going and, critically, getting the Russians engaged, because Assad is Russia’s client. Just as the Russians enabled us to relieve him of his chemical weapons, they will be central in getting him to the negotiating table.

My central point has been repeated many times in this House. Despite the issues we face in trying to get international co-operation to support Iraq—such as the complexity of Kurdistan and the nature of the sectarian government that has plagued Iraq for the past few years—achieving the military mission will, somehow or other, have to involve Syria and Iraq.

Secondly, we must find a way of dealing fairly with political Islam. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell), I much appreciated the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox). There is a battle of ideas, but the playing field on which the battle of ideology will be carried out must be properly defined. My right hon. Friend did not address the question of why Hamas behaves as it does and why perfectly decent Palestinian students studying in London who are not religious fundamentalists support Hamas. We need to get to a place where we understand the forces of political Islam that we are dealing with.

The Government are now sitting on a review of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, conducted by Sir John Jenkins.

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Jeremy Corbyn: Does the hon. Gentleman not think that a political dialogue is needed at all levels, including Hamas in the elected Government of Gaza, to bring about and encourage a unified Government in Palestine, which will be in the interests of all Palestinians and of the region?

Crispin Blunt: I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman.

We face the much bigger question of how we will engage with political Islam. I am a secular, gay, western politician, and the values of political Islam are absolutely antithetical to mine, but people should be allowed to stand for election on a platform that brings their religious beliefs into play, much as the Muslim Brotherhood have throughout much of the middle east. We have yet to address the question of how we will engage with the Muslim Brotherhood fairly and reasonably, rather than doing so unfairly and unreasonably, tainting them with things of which they are not guilty. If their supporters cannot support the Brotherhood and are unreasonably suppressed, they might eventually make the transition to the ghastliness of what we have seen in Islamic State. In achieving a political and military mission to destroy Islamic State and everything it stands for, we must isolate it from the other political forces in the region. That means establishing the criteria by which we engage with political Islam.

My request to the Government, as they sit on the Jenkins report on the behaviour of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and its potential engagement, or not, with terrorist activities, is to establish in that report the criteria of what is reasonable and acceptable for a political movement such as the Muslim Brotherhood to undertake. What is the reasonable playing field for it to engage with me and the rest of us in the battle of ideas and ideology to which my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox) referred?

6.15 pm

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I have listened intently to the previous speeches. Given the political unrest that continues to grow, it does not surprise me to hear the many economic, political and humanitarian concerns that have been raised by so many Members. As my party’s spokesperson on human rights, I want to speak about the violations of human rights that have taken place across Ukraine, the middle east and north Africa—specifically, the persecution of Christians and what has happened to them. Some Members touched on that, particularly the right hon. Members for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) and for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden).

Were it not for Russia annexing Crimea and the unrest that there has been in the east, in particular, Ukraine was on the cusp of something good. The Davis cup tennis event was to be held there at the beginning of August, but that could not happen because of the unrest. Then there was the dreadful downing of flight MH17 back in July, when so many people lost their lives—a ghastly attack. The intervention of Russian troops in Ukraine, in collusion with the pro-Russian groups that live in the country, has left many Christians fearful of suffering persecution at their hands. Today we have an opportunity to speak for them. Corey Bailey of International Christian Concern has said that last month four volunteers from the Far East Broadcasting Company in Ukraine, which broadcasts the gospel across

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that country, were pulled from their building, and once it was discovered that they were evangelical Christians, they were beaten to death for their faith. Corey Bailey has claimed that pro-Russian separatists are suspicious of foreign or western influences and see evangelical Christians as a threat.

Andrew Bennett, Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom, has warned of the persecution of Catholics as the political crisis grows in Ukraine. There are clearly concerns about Christians of all denominations. In July this year, it was revealed that two deacons from the Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith and the two sons of the church’s pastor had been tortured and murdered at the hands of the separatists. The so-called militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic broke into the premises of the church and took the four men away. The terrorists also charged the church members with a crime against the DNR—namely, support for the Ukrainian army. Kidnappings, beatings, torture, threats of death and assaults at places of prayer are all happening to Christians in Ukraine, and we cannot ignore their plight.

The title of the debate also refers to the middle east and north Africa. At one stage, 20% of the population in north Africa and the middle east were Christian; that figure has now fallen to 4%. We are all aware of the toxic spread of ISIL across the middle east. In recent weeks, the western world has been brought to its knees in mourning for the two American journalists who were so brutally murdered because of their nationality—their rights, beliefs and freedoms as Americans. We have all joined in condemnation of this terrorist attack and of the so-called British citizens fighting their war.

The World Watch List includes Syria, where 600,000 Christians have fled the country or lost their lives in the civil war and where I fear that Christianity will cease to exist. In Iraq, we have seen the displacement of some 500,000 people around Mosul and the plains of Nineveh. Virtually all of Mosul’s remaining Christian population has fled. I believe that there is an axis of evil. In Iran, all Christian activity is illegal, from evangelism to Bible training and even reading of the scripture. The Iranian regime’s constitution and criminal code has legalised barbaric punishments for Christians such as amputation of limbs, gouging out of eyes, crucifixion, torture and public executions. In addition, pregnant women are executed and women in jail are abused. This happens in Iran on a regular basis.

In Sudan, faith-related killings, damaging of Christian properties, detention and forced marriage are taking place. We welcome the fact that Meriam Ibrahim was able to leave Sudan and go to Italy, but there are many others like her.

Finally, despite international pressure and the involvement of the Nigerian military, there has been no sign at all of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, which is of great concern to us.

This has been a sombre debate. I urge the Government to be aware of the desperate plight of Christians and minorities across the world. Unfortunately, their struggles are often lost in the military or political coverage of these conflicts. Let us not be the country that stands silent while such suffering goes on all around us.

Several hon. Members rose

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Mr Speaker: Order. In order to accommodate the six remaining Back-Bench colleagues who wish to take part, I am afraid that I have, with immediate effect, to reduce the time limit on Back-Bench contributions to three minutes.

6.20 pm

Richard Drax (South Dorset) (Con): May I apologise for missing a large part of the debate because of Select Committee duties? Personally I find great danger in these types of debates, because I do not have all the facts. If I had been fully and properly briefed by a general and by MI6, my words would, I hope, be wiser, but I will do the best I can with what I have learned and read.

This is a debate on world security, particularly in the middle east and the Gulf states. I want to touch briefly on two points relating to the NATO summit and any possible military conflict in Iraq.

I am delighted that NATO appears to have woken up to the fact that responsibility must be shared and that the share of the budget must be increased to at least 2% over the next 10 years. Why, however, should it take 10 years? If we look around the world, we see what a chaotic state it is in, so I would suggest that it should be done in one year or even less. Why should the United States continue to bear so much of the responsibility for world security? Every time they do something, they are often pilloried for it. They may get it right or wrong, but surely we would be in a better place to criticise if we took a bigger share of responsibility.

To a certain extent, I agree with the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) that we should stop intervening in countries such as Iraq. In my view, the intervention in Iraq was a disaster—and so it has been proved. However, if we go into countries such as Iraq with promises that we will save them, restore all the things they want and help them live as near as possible to a law-abiding life, do we not have a responsibility when we pull out? We have lost brave members of our armed forces who have been killed or severely wounded. To simply leave such a country and abandon it to its fate would be a dereliction of our duty. Future politicians should ask the question raised by the hon. Gentleman: do we go in, can we afford to go in and how on earth do we get out; and if we do get out, should we go back in if what we were attempting to do has not been achieved?

I am not for one minute advocating boots on the ground, but if we were asked by an international confederation, including the Iraqis, to send troops to help deal with this minority group of 13,000 people—militarily we could succeed and teach a lesson to this barbaric group—would the Government consider putting British military boots on the ground?

Finally, if any British military action, including bombing, is to take place, will the Prime Minister and the Executive come to the House to ask its permission to send our armed forces into harm’s way?

6.23 pm

David Tredinnick (Bosworth) (Con): I want to focus on Ukraine and Russia in the short time allowed to me. In 1988 and the early 1990s I chaired a parliamentary group, the Future of Europe Trust, dedicated to building links with Russia. I am appalled at what has happened between Russia and Ukraine. It is totally unnecessary

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and I think the west has done quite a lot of damage through not consulting on moves towards European Union membership for Ukraine after its nuclear disarmament. I also think that the approach of NATO has been quite wrong.

I refer the House to what the then US Secretary of State Mr Baker said at the time of the reunification of Germany. He said that there would be

“no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east”.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that President Putin made it clear at the 2008 NATO conference in Bucharest that, because Ukraine and, for that matter, Belarus are so clearly in Russia’s back yard, any move towards bringing NATO to Ukraine would cause severe problems with Russia. We have to take that into consideration. There is also the history of Crimea, which was taken by French and British forces, and that means Russia would see NATO coming into Ukraine as another defeat. Russia has always had security worries since the French attack under Napoleon and, of course, that by Hitler in the second world war.

However, I see Russia potentially as a friend. It helped us enormously through the northern distribution network when the Afghan war was at its height, and it did not interrupt our use of the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan. If we do not make some sort of accommodation with Russia, we will have huge problems with Iran. Many hon. Friends have referred to the need to deal with the Syrian theatre, which is also a subject in this debate, but without Russian help that will be impossible. We need to be accommodating as far the small Russian base at Tartus in Syria is concerned.

The way forward is to say firmly that NATO will not move into Ukraine, part of which is anyway in Asia. The European Union needs to show some sympathy in dealing with that. We now need a realistic policy: we cannot go on with expansion that undermines Russian security, and we must think very carefully about bringing the Russians on board to resolve the terrible problems in Syria, Iraq and the surrounding areas.

6.26 pm

Mr David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con): I welcome this debate. Sadly, I feel that it is too little and too late, given the time available to us to address the subject and given that I believe Parliament should have been recalled many weeks ago because of the genocidal atrocities that we have seen, sadly, in Iraq and Syria over the summer.

We talk about history and the shadow it casts—with Iraq and, indeed, the Syria vote—but that emphasises how Parliament needs to be involved at the earliest stage if it is to consider the scale of any threat; to hold the Government to account for their actions or, as some of us see it, inaction; and to ensure that Parliament is behind the way the Government are going not only in relation to decisions that have already been made, such as to arm the peshmerga, but in relation to further action, not least air strikes, that should be properly considered by Parliament.

The Prime Minister recognises that there is a need to establish what is in the national interest, but the jihadists have widened that by extending it into the terrain of

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Syria and Iraq. We must also recognise that there is a need to look at the historical view, including by asking who were the friends of the British in Iraq. When we remember the centenary of the first world war, we should ask ourselves, “Who manned the Iraq levies?” It was the Assyrian Chaldeans, the Christians who now face extermination at the hands of ISIS jihadists. Such historical bonds should have an effect on our view of the national interest.

As has already been said, we must recognise that ISIS stands for the destruction of homes, lives and places of worship—such as the tomb of Jonah in the city of Nineveh—that have stood the test of time and existed for the Assyrians for some 6,000 years. As several hon. Members have said, including my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Rowley Regis (James Morris), this network has not just sprung up over the summer, but has existed for many years. It threatens basic freedoms, not least that of religion. Boko Haram has declared a caliphate in Nigeria and militant Islam is having an impact in Indonesia, Pakistan and Egypt.

What must we do? I look forward to hearing about further action when Ministers return to the House. Such action should include aid—we should not underestimate the huge humanitarian support and aid coming from Britain—as well as safety. My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) talked about the need for a safe zone. That would be complex and would take time, but we should consider it.

In the meantime, we must not ignore the need for asylum and safety. Australia has been very generous, like other countries, and has suggested that it will take some 4,400 Iraqi or Syrian refugees. I understand that, under the vulnerable persons relocation scheme, 50 or so refugees have come to this country. We must be ready to follow the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who has said that

“watching preventable genocide is not a credible option”.

In other words, we should say, “Never again”.

6.29 pm

David T. C. Davies (Monmouth) (Con): When Parliament met last year to discuss military action in Syria, I asked myself two questions. The first was: does Assad’s Government pose some sort of threat to the United Kingdom? In my opinion, the answer was, and still is, clearly no. The second question that was important to answer was: would the action we took be likely to improve things for the civilians living in Syria? Again I felt that the answer was no. That was based partly on conversations that I had had in Syria with leaders of Christian communities, who condemned Assad but warned that the alternatives would be far worse. In considering whether we should support military action against ISIS, as we are now, I asked myself the same questions.

This has been a tremendous debate. I have listened with interest and have learned something from virtually everyone who has spoken. I have agreed with much that has been said by Opposition Members. This time, I have come up with slightly different answers. I believe that ISIS does pose a threat to the United Kingdom. Its aim is to spread its warped version of its religion at the point of a sword. Many of its followers come from Britain and may come back to Britain and commit atrocities here. My answer to the question whether intervention would help civilians in the area is also yes.

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It would help not only the Christians, but the Yazidis, the Kurds, the Shi’a and even the Sunni Muslims who do not want that kind of Sunni Islam to be imposed upon them. I therefore believe that there are humanitarian reasons for taking military action.

If that conclusion is correct, we have to consider working with other people who are opposed to ISIS. That clearly means talking to Iran, which has an enormous role in the region. Uncomfortable though it may be for some, myself included, it also means considering talks of some sort with Assad’s Government. I am mindful that during the second world war we were forced to work with Stalin, who killed more people than Hitler. We were right to do so, because Hitler posed the obvious threat to our security. Since then, we have continued to work with regimes with dubious human rights records because we have been afraid of the alternatives. If we are committed to ridding ourselves of the evil that is ISIS, we have to be willing to work with anyone who is prepared to share the commitment to get rid of it.

6.32 pm

Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell) (Con): This is a broad topic and there is limited time. I think that Parliament has a role to play in developing strategies not just for the middle east, Russia and Ukraine, but for countries throughout the world. The contributions today, particularly those of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden), my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) and my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart), have been so good that we should create the time for people to debate these matters in the Chamber. To have discussed puppy farming and hospital parking last week was a disgrace. I am ashamed of this Chamber and the way that must have looked to the wider community.

I fully support the important immediate measures that the Government have taken to tackle extremism at home, although in the five hours that I have been here I have not heard many contributions about security at home. The Home Secretary is fully aware of my views about the need to move certain communities in this country from being patriarchal to being more matriarchal. That is part of the solution to the challenges that we face. I fully support the alleviation of suffering in the middle east and all the international development funding that has been spent on that. Attempts at defeating ISIS also have my support.

I want this country to have enough independence to be able to do what is right in the world. By independence, I mean energy independence. As I have said repeatedly in the Chamber, energy policy drives foreign policy, which drives defence policy. That is the order. I would like to see energy independence from Russia and from the Gulf states, which may have contributed to the formation of ISIS over recent years. That requires a long-term strategy. I encourage the relevant Committees and Departments to look at our energy policy. I serve on the Energy and Climate Change Committee, but I struggle to discern a UK energy policy.

The second thing that I want to see is a long-term vision. What can we do now that will lead to a better world? Of course tackling ISIS is important, but we should go on to root out extremism in all its forms

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throughout this country and the wider world. I also want to see a long-term regional settlement in the area, with something like the London committee that Churchill had in the war being convened. The brightest people in the middle east, with representatives of all of its communities, could sit down and talk to work out how we could bring peace to the region. It is a complex region, and that is why it is so compelling. We should do our best to create the circumstances for that. Regardless of the result of next week’s referendum, this country has a role and a responsibility in that, and we should step up to the plate.

6.35 pm

Stephen Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire) (Con): In his remarks to the House on Monday, the Prime Minister spoke of the opportunity offered by the new Government in Baghdad. There is a certain tension between that remark and those of the Foreign Secretary when he spoke of taking stronger action on the financing of Islamic State. IS has been in place for three years and is now largely self-financing. It has got money from Mosul, where it had a significant windfall, and it controls areas of Syria. On the issue of its financing, the horse has bolted.

There is urgency with the arrival of the new Government, and I hope that one response will be for the Foreign Secretary to visit them personally in Baghdad. I hope that he will also go to Kurdistan, where, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) correctly identified, the UK Government have leverage, not least because of the record of Sir John Major and the 1991 no-fly zones.

What has come out of contributions from all parts of the House today is a desire for greater clarity about the UK Government’s objectives. On Syria, the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) queried what our objective was in relation to Assad—what do we see replacing him, and how is that consistent with the Iranian view? What will the territory look like once Assad has gone? Likewise, it seems a step beyond a long shot for us to expect a unified Iraq, given the Sunni legacy concerns about Baghdad and the fact that the Kurdish state now has a Prime Minister, a President, its own armed forces, its own legitimate demands and its people dying in the field. I would be keen to see the more realistic objective of a federal structure set.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) said, the resources need to be in place for intelligence and a diplomatic capability, but the political masters also need to listen that intelligence. The sense is often that advice from those at the sharp end is not taken on board.

Finally, we need to be clearer in our expectations. Before we commit UK military resource, we should challenge the Sunni Gulf states that we have supplied arms to and that have deep pockets. It will help us address the issue of radicalisation in the UK if the fight against odious regimes is led by fellow Sunnis rather than western intervention.

6.38 pm

Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): As many hon. Members have said, this has been a wide-ranging and deeply thoughtful debate. At a time

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when, understandably, many Members of all parties are focusing on the Union and our own constitutional debate, it is important that today, on behalf of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we have debated how to keep all our citizens safe using our enviable international power, partnerships, intelligence infrastructure, military capabilities and other resources. We have discussed how to protect our own people as well as civilians overseas, and how to protect and pursue our values for those who are caught up in horrific conflicts.

Mr McFadden: Does my right hon. Friend think that that point is particularly important given that Glasgow airport suffered its own terrorist attack a couple of years ago, which shows that the whole UK faces the same threat from the forces that are attacking our way of life?

Yvette Cooper: We do face the same threats right across the United Kingdom, and we stand together most effectively against those threats when we work together, including our intelligence and security agencies and police forces. We should pay tribute to those bodies, because they work immensely hard throughout the Union, as has been reflected in today’s debate.

Members across the House have shown great experience in their contributions, particularly in foreign affairs, which shows how seriously we take the threats to regional and global stability, as well as to our interests at home. This has been a difficult debate to sum up, because the range of contributions has been so diverse. I therefore say to the Government that adding those four issues together in a single debate has perhaps strained its nature and made it complex to respond to.

We heard about the principles of foreign policy and how far we should learn from our international history. The right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) spoke about Iraq, the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) about Afghanistan, and my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) about Syria, and they mentioned the lessons of each of those decisions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) warned that we must learn from the past but not be imprisoned by it.

We debated how far we should engage and Britain’s role in the world, and the right hon. Members for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) and for North Somerset (Dr Fox) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain) had different perspectives on what Britain’s role could be. As the shadow Foreign Secretary made clear, in a complex world with new and complex threats, it is ever more important for us to work through partnerships and alliances, rather than to seek isolation.

We have debated the roles of strategy and the principles of military engagement and diplomacy or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) said, how we use the weapons of the military and the weapons of the mind. We heard a detailed contribution from my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) who spoke about the importance of Iran, and other hon. Members mentioned Turkey. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon

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Valley (Ann Clwyd) and the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) debated the Iraqi Government, and the right hon. Member for Croydon South (Sir Richard Ottaway) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) spoke about sanctions and Russia. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner) and others spoke about the awful conditions in Gaza, and the need to break out of the cycle of violence.

The right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) spoke about events and the response to ISIL, and rightly argued about the importance of that response being led by those in the region—the Iraqi Government, the Kurdish Regional Government and members of the Arab League. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester West (Liz Kendall) said that we cannot turn our backs or walk away, and that we are most effective when we work in partnership.

We have had a wide-ranging debate on all those issues, but in my remaining minutes I want to concentrate on security, and particularly the implications for domestic security. Although most of the debate has been about ISIL and the threat it poses, we have been warned for many months by the Security Service about the threat that ISIL and the conflict in Syria have been posing to our domestic security at home. That was brought savagely home to us by the terrible videos of the beheadings of American journalists, with a British voice being heard, and the threat to British citizens who are kidnapped. As the Foreign Secretary said earlier, that appears to be at the hands of a British citizen who has joined the barbarism, and we have been warned about many of our citizens who have become involved.

We have had threats from extremists against Britain before, so this is not new. Since 9/11, 330 people have been convicted of terrorism-related offences in Britain. We have seen attacks inspired by al-Qaeda, and attacks carried out or attempted by British citizens—some trained abroad, many radicalised at home. Last year we had the awful attack on Drummer Lee Rigby, and the murder by a right-wing extremist of Mohammed Saleem.

We stand against extremism and violence in all its forms wherever we see it, whether that is by condemning the appalling rise in anti-Semitic attacks or the awful increase in Islamophobic attacks, or condemning those who become involved in terrorist organisations or extremist groups and who do not share our values, no matter that they may have been born or brought up in Britain.

Those who join ISIL extremists are going to join no Spanish civil war. They are beheading people and parading their heads on spikes, subjugating women and girls, and killing Muslims, Christians and anyone who gets in their way. As many hon. Members have said clearly, this is no liberation movement; it is a perverted, oppressive ideology that bears no relation to Islam. Some of the strongest voices against young Britons joining the conflict have been Muslim youth groups, communities and parents desperate to stop young people going. We agree with the Government that more needs to be done to prevent young people from being drawn into the conflict and to deal with the threat they pose.

More could also be done to improve the situation. We have called for improvements to the Prevent programme. The Home Secretary has said previously that before 2010 the programme was flawed but has now been improved, and she has defended its effectiveness. I hope she will review that because there are gaps in the programme.

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There were flaws in it before and there are flaws in it now. Things change all the time and more needs to be done, working with communities to support community-led programmes to prevent young people from being radicalised.

The programme must keep up with new methods of radicalisation. Young people are now being recruited not simply by traditional methods, but by appeals through social media, contacts from friends and so on—different kinds of approaches that need to be responded to. Excellent work is being done by the Channel programme, but more people, particularly those returning from the region, must be required to engage immediately with the programme, which has done important work de-radicalising people and reducing the threat. The Government should also do more in respect of temporary passport seizures. Some who left should have been stopped, and we look forward to working with the Government on ways to bring in those powers.

I hope the Home Secretary will say more about the measures the Prime Minister announced, because there is some confusion around them. Downing street has briefed that people born as British citizens will be prevented from returning to the country, even if they have no alternative citizenship. The Prime Minister says that this would comply with international obligations—international law prevents countries from making their citizens stateless—and has said it would be a targeted, discretionary power to allow us to exclude British nationals from the UK. It sounds as though the Government intend people to remain British citizens but be kept out of the country. How would this work? Do they hope that other countries will adopt people? Is this a temporary exclusion? Are they to be detained at foreign airports or to be deported somewhere else? What is the plan? There is considerable confusion, and no one has yet been able to understand their intention.

On the proposals for terrorism prevention and investigation measures, the Prime Minister has said that relocation powers will be restored, but the Deputy Prime Minister has said they are looking only at existing powers. The Home Secretary knows our view: we have argued from the start that the police and security services need relocation powers at their disposal, subject to the agreement of the courts, to be used in the difficult cases of terror suspects who, for complex reasons, cannot be prosecuted. She has defended the removal of relocation powers in the past, but I hope she will now recognise the importance of reintroducing them. None of those relocated under control orders ever absconded, whereas two of those in whose cases the relocation powers were removed under TPIMs did then abscond. She has not confirmed that relocation powers will be introduced or said when they will be introduced. The powers are ready, in the clauses drafted and scrutinised as part of emergency legislation, and we stand ready to bring them in as soon as she brings them forward. Will she confirm that she intends to do so?

This has been a complex and thoughtful debate. The challenge is to protect our security and the values of our democracy. In certain areas, we need not only strong powers but strong checks and balances to protect the values and the liberty of our democracy, as well as the safety of our citizens. The challenge abroad is to act with humility but determination and to pursue the co-operation and collaboration we need at a time when those threats are becoming more complex than ever.

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6.49 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): We have indeed had an extremely interesting debate and have heard a wide range of views.

The debate was opened by a powerful and thoughtful speech by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who set out the Government’s position with great clarity. I welcome the careful and serious response from the shadow Foreign Secretary and his hope that it will be possible to work together to address the challenges we face, for events in Ukraine, north Africa and most particularly the middle east all pose grave and significant challenges, and it is right that the House has had a chance to debate these issues fully.

Indeed, the role of Parliament, not just in debating these issues but in consideration of possible military action, was a theme referred to by a number of hon. Members, including my right hon. and learned Friends the Members for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) and for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) and my hon. Friends the Members for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) and for North Wiltshire (Mr Gray). As the shadow Home Secretary said, there have been a large number of contributions to this debate. I might not be able to refer to all of them, but I will do my best during the time available to me.

A number of speakers referred to Ukraine, including the hon. Members for Preston (Mark Hendrick) and for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) and my hon. Friends the Members for Bosworth (David Tredinnick) and for New Forest East (Dr Lewis). The hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) raised a specific issue about the annexation of Crimea. I can assure her that this Government do not and will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia. The hon. Member for Leicester West (Liz Kendall) reminded us that what is happening in Ukraine has had an impact on us here, by referring to the fact that sadly one of her constituents died in the attack on flight MH17.

A number of other Members focused on Israel, Hamas and Gaza. Not all of them shared the same analysis of these issues. My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell) spoke about the threat from Hamas. The hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) also referred to these issues and asked about debating the US-UK mutual defence agreement. I can tell him that, in accordance with the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, proposed amendments will be laid before Parliament for scrutiny later in the year. The issue of Gaza was also referred to by the hon. Members for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) and for Newport West (Paul Flynn).

The hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) raised some specific issues, including one relating to DEFRA. I will ensure that she gets a written response to her question.

For most Members of the House, however, this was an opportunity to refer to issues relating to Iraq and Syria. Some common themes came out from their contributions. The first—perhaps it seems an obvious one, but it is still worth saying—was that anything we do should mean acting in the national interest. A number of Members referred to the importance in doing that of considering our values, which underpin our actions. They included my right hon. Friend the Member for

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North Somerset (Dr Fox), the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) and my hon. Friends the Members for Halesowen and Rowley Regis (James Morris) and for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart), who advocated more funding for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—I am not sure whether the Foreign Secretary was here at that point. My hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border also referred to the importance of the knowledge, understanding and expertise in the Foreign Office in looking at these issues, but also the understanding that we need to have of our place in the world and the values that underpin the actions we undertake.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood) and the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) referred to the NATO summit, the latter saying that what came out of it underlined the United Kingdom’s place in the world.

There was also a shared analysis of the brutality and barbarism of ISIL and the threat that it poses to the United Kingdom. Reference to that was made by, for example, the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) and my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes).

The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) talked about the actions—the terrible actions in some cases—taken against Christians, not just in Iraq but in other parts of the world, and about the impact of those actions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Sir Richard Ottaway) made a link, which I do not think anybody else made, between the operation of ISIL and its financing from criminal activities.

Another theme was the need to build alliances in order to deal with the threat. The hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) said that we need a coalition to defeat the caliphate. My hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee) talked about working with states in the middle east and made reference to his long-standing concern about the need to work with communities here in the United Kingdom.

A theme in a number of speeches was that the Government should work to a strategy, but also that we should be prepared to take the action necessary to protect our national security. The possibility of air strikes was referred to by a number of Members, including my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) and my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron). Having said that, there were some words of warning from the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Mr Llwyd) —he is not in his place, so my pronunciation can pass by—and the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd). My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) referred to the need to talk more, a point echoed by my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner).

A number of Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi), spoke about the importance of an inclusive Government in Iraq and it is a concern shared by the Government. Other Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth), raised the need to ensure that there are adequate resources for our needs.

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There was not always an agreed position on Syria. It was interesting to note that the right hon. Members for Blackburn (Mr Straw) and for Neath (Mr Hain), both senior members of the Opposition and former Cabinet Members, joined by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies), were all of the mind that there should be talks with Assad—a position not shared by the Government.

We are ever alert to the changing nature of the threat posed by terrorism to Britain and its interests abroad. In recent years, we have seen the threat continue to diversify, and it can come from any number of countries or groups. It is manifesting itself most sharply at present in Syria, but north Africa and the Sahel are also examples of this worrying trend. Extremist groups, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and like-minded groups in Libya, are increasingly able to operate across vast and ungoverned spaces.

Last year, we saw an al-Qaeda-linked group attack the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, killing 40 people, including six British nationals. We have seen terrorist attacks in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and a threat to British nationals of kidnap and attack. We are working closely with our Government counterparts in north Africa to support them in countering the terrorist threats more effectively, but tackling terrorism in such areas remains a real challenge, making it all the more imperative to take a robust and comprehensive domestic approach to countering terrorism.

Before I focus on Syria and Iraq in that connection, let me respond to a point raised by the right hon. Member for Blackburn about Iran and the issue of reopening an embassy in Tehran. We will do that as soon as the practical issues can be resolved, including those associated with re-establishing any visa service. I am sure he will understand the need for the appropriate infrastructure, staffing and the processes to ensure that we can offer a proper service. It is the practical considerations that are a matter of concern.

The collapse of Syria and the emergence of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant pose very significant challenges to our national security. As we have heard, we are seeing an unprecedented concentration of the terrorist threat in and from Syria and Iraq. Terrorist groups fighting in Syria are supported by increasing numbers of foreign fighters, including numbers in the hundreds from this country and thousands from elsewhere. This presents a significant challenge due not only to the number of people fighting with the many Syria and Iraq-based terrorist groups, but to their proximity to the UK, ease of travel across porous borders in the region and the availability of weapons. We are indeed looking to see what further powers we need to take here in the United Kingdom to be able to deal with the threat that these people pose.

People who insist on travelling to fight in Syria and Iraq will be investigated by the police and security services. We have already taken tough action on rules governing the use of the royal prerogative. The Serious Crime Bill, which is in another place, will close the gap in our powers to ensure that any British national who prepares or trains for terrorism abroad can be prosecuted in this country as if they had carried out those activities in the UK. We are also confronting the poisonous ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions terrorism—a point made by the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley

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(Mr Donaldson) and referred to by the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). As the Prime Minister has said, we are in the midst of a generational struggle against a deadly, extremist ideology, and we will do everything we can, as a Government, to ensure that we have the powers that are necessary to deal with it.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered Ukraine, Middle East, North Africa and security.