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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the question of proscribing groups is of course important but--the noble Baroness is right--it is not always successful. These are fringe, marginal organisations. I almost said
We should also remind ourselves that since these people have nothing else to bolster themselves, very often some of them, curiously, would want to be proscribed to obtain the attendant publicity for their otherwise dismal, pathetic little lives. It is important that we should be robust. That was very much brought home to me. My daughter, who is 17, was not too far away and within easy earshot of the bomb. We should bear in mind that terrorism wins when we succumb. I entirely endorse what the noble Baroness said about that.
Baroness Uddin: My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating this very important Statement. Does my noble friend agree that the people of Brick Lane, both the Jewish community and now the Bangladeshi community, have historically been resolute in their defiance of fascist activities? Does he further agree that the local community has demonstrated great tenacity and strength in dealing with racists and racist attacks, of which there have been many?
I visited the site yesterday, and on Saturday night--just after the bomb exploded--I was less than half a mile away. Like many other people in the community, I could not believe that on the second Saturday after Brixton a bomb would go off. The horror and tragedy of what might have been were obvious. One had only to look at the walls and some of the cars parked on the street which had six-inch nails stuck in them. Anyone with children would be horrified by the possible consequences. Will my noble friend and other noble Lords join me in paying tribute to the community leaders of Tower Hamlets and Brixton for dealing with the events and consequences of these incidents with the kind of robustness that has been mentioned? Perhaps I may take this opportunity to pay tribute to the police for the way they have responded very promptly since last Saturday.
Finally, will my noble friend assure the House that the Metropolitan Police will take this opportunity to build up the confidence of the community, which is feeling tense at the moment, by ensuring that sensitive support and thorough protection continue to be provided, as they have been since last Saturday. Will he further assure the House that we will vigorously continue to implement the recommendations of the Macpherson report?
I agree with the noble Baroness about the great tenacity and strength of people who refuse to be intimidated out of their communities. That is extremely important. Many of them are living in difficult circumstances, in a country which originally was not their own, dealing in a language which is not their own. One would have thought they would have enough struggle and adversity without being threatened by these mindless hooligans.
I am very much obliged to the noble Baroness for her generous tribute to the police. It is as well to put that in the balance occasionally when the Metropolitan Police in particular have been subjected to so much criticism. The police are a public service. To move on to the noble Baroness's third point, the police are well aware, certainly under the leadership of the commissioner--it is well demonstrated--of the need to build on and improve confidence. One of the consequences of this wickedness is that it provides such an opportunity, which I know has been eagerly seized on, both by those who live in the community and insist on continuing to live their lawful, peaceful lives and by the police.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, I wish to associate the Jewish community of this country with the statements that have been made from the Front Benches and especially by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. We have long recognised that an attack by a fascist, racist group on any minority is an attack on all minorities. When there is an attack on the Afro-Caribbean or Asian communities it may not be today an attack on the Jews, but it will be, probably, tomorrow; if it is an attack today on the Jews, it will probably be an attack on the Catholics or the Anglicans or any other minority the day after. Whether we are Moslems, Jews, Hindus or Catholics, we are all members of minorities. Do the Government accept and does the Minister understand that we must all stand together and fight racism of this kind?
Lord Williams of Mostyn : My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend. This sentence in the Statement got in by no accident. We thought about it with some care and I repeat it. I want to make it clear that any attack on these communities is an attack on all British people and the whole of British society. That is well worth repeating and bearing in mind.
Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, wise words have already been spoken from this side of the House. I want to add a few thoughts of my own, as I represented for more than 30 years the area in which the Brick Lane outrage took place. I assure the House and my noble friend the Minister that there will be full co-operation, as far as the community can give, with the authorities in helping to apprehend the evil people who inflicted this appalling outrage and indiscriminate act of violence
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for stressing that we may confidently expect full co-operation from everyone who has decent, human feeling. I refer in particular to those who--going back to the phrase used by my noble friend Lord Dholakia--have been so monstrously affected in the innocent conduct of their daily business both in Brixton and Brick Lane. My noble friend's second point was well made. I spoke only this morning to my honourable friends Kate Hoey, who is one of the local Members of Parliament, and Oona King--the other local MP. As my noble friend rightly said, these questions are of wider consequence and they are being attacked by the social exclusion unit and welfare to work. Such measures may not be spectacular in terms of immediate results but they are an important plank in the Government's general policy for all who are poor and disadvantaged--particularly those who are poor and disadvantaged in the way my noble friend specified.
Baroness Anelay of St. John: My Lords, I join other noble Lords in condemning those people rightly referred to by the Minister as being outside the margins of society. The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, referred to the elixir of publicity that such persons enjoy. The Minister referred to existing legislation being used in an attempt to cut off that publicity. Can the Minister say what consideration is being given by the Government to ways in which the self-publicity that is possible via the Internet can be curtailed? I am sure other noble Lords are sickened and shocked, as I am, by the availability of the most disgraceful material through that medium.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The noble Baroness, not for the first time, rightly identifies a deeply significant aspect. Everyone deplores the distribution of any anti-Semitic or racially inflammable material via the Internet or any other medium. Matter on the Internet is already subject to the same laws, provided--and this is the difficulty--that the Internet provider is within our jurisdiction. We are co-operating closely with other jurisdictions. If it can be demonstrated that offences have occurred in other jurisdictions, as a matter of course we regularly inform the relevant authorities. The criminal policy strategy unit in the Home Office co-ordinates the work undertaken on Internet crime generally. There are legal remedies, which are sometimes difficult to apply, but crime is committed, even crime on the Internet, if it can be caught within the laws that bite within our jurisdiction. There are others
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