|Back to Table of Contents
|Lords Hansard Home Page
Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, others have already expressed shock and horror at this week's barbarism in New York and Washington. I join in extending deepest sympathy to the people and the President of the United States. I express my admiration for the courage of their emergency services and my recognition of the key role of the United States as the bulwark of freedom and democracy around the world. Like everyone else, I welcome most sincerely the clarity of our own Prime Minister's swift commitment to support our American friends and partners. I admire the quality, tone and substance of the Statement which the Leader of the House read to us today.
Likewise, I warmly commend the robust speed and clarity of NATO's matching commitment, so plainly expounded to the world by one of our colleagues, the noble Lord, Lord Robertson. As the Leader of the House rightly pointed out, that commitment of NATO arises squarely from Article 5,
It brings to mind--if I may weary the House--the way in which the concept of self-defence was critical during a comparable episode during my time as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I have in mind of course the decision of this country in 1986 to support the United States' plans to bomb Libya after the shocking murder committed by Libyan-inspired terrorists in Berlin. It must be said that the case for such action at that time did not seem as clear as it does today. Indeed, the case for the actions we took was criticised in the House of Commons by a number of distinguished Members of this House. I will not trouble to name them, although I see the noble Lord, Lord Owen, in his place and we discussed it earlier. I had total sympathy with the anxieties they expressed because the circumstances were extremely difficult. Those of us in Cabinet, including the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, took time to analyse how we should react.
Then, as now, one distracting feature was the tendency of some spokesmen on these issues to justify the necessary action as an act of retaliation; a response which is justified as revenge in its own right. We were all worried about that and in the end we made it crystal clear to the United States Administration--and it was equally clearly acknowledged--that we were prepared to support their action because it could and properly should be justified as a legitimate act of self-defence.
The remarkable thing is that in 1986 that argument was seen to grow in strength because as the months and years went by Gaddafi increasingly behaved like a man who had been taught a lesson. Eventually critics found it impossible to continue criticising an act of deterrence, sincerely and convincingly undertaken in self-defence, that was actually seen to have deterred. That is the basis upon which we justify our approach today.
In today's circumstances three other conditions need to be fulfilled for robust action in self-defence to be justified and effective. First, before any such robust counter strike is authorised, it is essential to be sure, or as sure as one can be, that the evidence of guilt is equally robust. The second condition will not be fulfilled without that for it is to sustain the unflagging long-term unity of international support that will be essential to success in what is bound to be a long and detailed campaign. I have attended too many international summits, at which I have seen that kind of bold and brave initial commitment wasting away, to have any doubts about the difficulty of maintaining what is necessary: long-term unity spread as widely round the world as can possibly be achieved.
The third condition is that such robust action must be accompanied by a renewed commitment to tackle even- handedly both sides of the Middle East conflict, which fuels and exacerbates the hostility towards the United States, however unjustified, and which lies in the background to the tragedies of this week. It is not possible for the United States, with her power and authority as the principal guarantor of the state of Israel's very existence, to be disengaged from that process. Nor should anyone for a moment seek that. But for that very reason, the United States - and not only the United States - needs to be seen as equally committed to support for the legitimate rights and expectations of the Palestinian people whose world has been disrupted for such a long time.
The recent efforts of Senator George Mitchell, who has played such a distinguished part in helping us to tackle our own problems, show the nature of commitment to an even-handed policy that we have come to expect and for which we respect him. We all need, above all perhaps the members of the European Union--including ourselves--to commit ourselves in the same way.
I close with a quotation, perhaps remarkably from Thucydides, which was first brought to my notice by the present American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his valedictory address as he left the Pentagon, having completed his term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said:
Lord Owen: My Lords, the horror felt in this country about what has happened in the United States reflects the debt and the bonds of steel that bind our two countries together. My wife is a New Yorker, my daughter is working in New York, and our family lost a very close friend in the World Trade Centre, with whom we were sailing round the Isle of Wight only a few weeks ago, commemorating the America's Cup.
Much has been said about the responsibility that now lies on the new President, George Bush. He is fortunate to have guidance from an extremely experienced Vice-President, Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He can also call on an experienced former Secretary of State in James Baker, one of the few American Secretaries of State in recent years who has won the support of the Muslim and Arab world in dealing with the Palestinian problem. I hope that he will find a way of utilising that experience and of sending out a message that he understands that America has to go further in tackling this problem from a viewpoint that understands both the Israeli and Palestinian positions.
We all thank God that although this disaster was terrible, it did not involve nuclear or biological weapons, or gas. All three could easily have been involved. Let us not forget that, especially when we hear all the criticism of the policy towards Iraq. Of course that policy has not been successful, but what other policy would be more successful? Let us not forget that when Saddam Hussein was threatened and told that if he used nuclear weapons they would be used against him, it acted as a deterrent. Even so, when we looked at the tips of some of the missiles that the United Nations inspection team were able to get hold of, there was evidence that he was prepared to use other weapons of mass destruction. Gas was used in the Iran-Iraq war, and also against the Iraqi people. We face very dangerous times. Although we cannot cover too many aspects in this short debate, we do know that deterrence works.
I was glad of the remarks made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe. He is right. The then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, virtually single-handedly showed immense courage in accepting that we should allow the US and President Reagan to fly aircraft from this country's bases. He is right to say that I criticised it. I was wrong to criticise it. We must learn from mistakes that we made then. I did not expect Gaddafi to act in the way that he did.
Many people criticise the Israelis for taking out, in 1981, the supposedly civilian nuclear reactor in Iraq. There can now be no doubt that that action was correct and has hopefully prevented that country from having nuclear weapons.
I hope that the House will allow me to talk about Afghanistan and the surrounding area, as I love that country. I spent time there as a student. I have driven through it, been over its mountains, and have even slept out in tents with Afghan tribal leaders. It is a fine country with wonderful Muslim people. In those days, the women were treated equally, with honour and distinction. I was strongly in favour of action to get the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. But we must now all accept that the world is different. We cannot deal with Afghanistan by ourselves. We need Russia's support.
We must also pay more attention to Pakistan. The new Foreign Secretary has a real opportunity to change the tone of our dialogue with that country. It is not an easy issue for us. We have a real depth of
The Taleban leaders are devout people. For complex reasons that include that of solidarity, they look back at their history. The person on everyone's tongue, bin Laden, was helpful to many in ousting the Soviets from Afghanistan. He was supported by many people. He has now switched over to a form of fundamentalism which makes it extremely difficult for some of those people who owe him debts for what has previously been done. We have to understand the complexity of this issue. We also have to understand that organisations such as that which bin Laden heads have very serious links into other terrorist organisations in the Middle East--in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, the Gulf States--and even in the Indian Sub-Continent. It is a difficult issue for anyone to tackle, but it has to be tackled. We all have to learn.
The response authorised by President Clinton in 1998 did not work and arguably made the position worse. Cruise missiles coming into the Khost valley and scattering lots of little bombs did not hit the target but inflamed the situation and may, we may later see, have sown the seed for what happened in New York. Firm action may not necessarily be successful action. The question is what kind of action should be taken. When I saw the Chief of Defense Staff--that tall bemedalled figure, General Shelton--dealing with the horror that had happened in the Pentagon, I said to myself, "I don't think that man will ever support another response like the Cruise missile response of 1998". That is the big shift.
In the past decade and more many of us have found it difficult to handle the Americans because of the so-called fear of body bags. The American military have felt extremely inhibited. That has now changed. The United States is slow to anger. It is not a militant country. I resent bitterly the talk about cowboys. Remember how much this country urged and had a responsive president in Roosevelt in 1940-41 but could not get the Americans to respond. But when they did respond, they responded with courage, bravery and persistence. No one should underestimate that country. It is a great country. As one of its first Secretaries of State said,
But now it will respond and must respond. The challenge to us in NATO has already been well responded to by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson--and well he spoke for us in saying that an attack on one is an attack on all. In the European Union now we must have the resolve to stick with this throughout. There can be none of the past record of refusing overflying rights, of members distancing themselves from difficult policies and of not being prepared to step up to the plate when dealing with Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. There has to be much greater resolve.
My next point is not a partisan one, but let us be very glad that we in this country, under successive governments, have so far retained control of our own borders. In the present world it is a national right, a national duty and a national necessity to control one's borders. But as has been pointed out, some of the people who will want to come to Britain as genuine political refugees will come from countries such as Afghanistan. We cannot have blanket bans on genuine amnesty seekers. They cannot be banned because they are Muslim or because of the colour of their skin or the country from which they come.
It will pose very difficult challenges. But a liberal world, a civilised world, can exist only if it has courage and strength, if it is prepared to ask its armed services to take casualties and if it is prepared to challenge its own wish for liberty and accept things like security checks, telephone tapping and interventions in our personal liberty. These are difficult balances. Let us be truthful. We have had the balance wrong over the past two decades and quite a number of us--I include myself--are responsible for that. We have not taken a determined enough stance against international terrorism. If we are truthful, we have not taken a determined enough stance about terrorism in our own country. We must learn from our mistakes; and I am very happy to learn from mine.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Shore of Stepney is still in hospital. He very much wanted to be present but on medical advice is not able to be so. However, he has asked me to say that he wanted to take part in the debate and that he wanted to be associated with expressions of sympathy for those who were injured and for the families and friends of the many victims of the tragedy in the United States.
I shall be very brief because most of the arguments I had wanted to make have already been put much more eloquently by preceding speakers. However, I do believe that every person will be haunted to their dying day by the images they saw on television last Tuesday. Those memories will stay with us and will affect every one of us for many years to come. Whenever there has been a tragedy of this kind, whenever there has been a terrorist atrocity, I have asked myself, "How is it that there is so much hatred?" How is it that at Omagh and Lockerbie there was so much hatred that innocent
What action can we take, in concert with our allies and friends? We shall have to take tough measures and we shall have to be careful as to the constraints under which we operate. I suppose that every democracy will have to balance its respect for civil liberties with the need to defend itself and to defend its people. For example, I am quite certain that air travel will be much more difficult. We shall have to put up with far more constraints when we seek to board planes, when we pack our luggage and when we go through the checks. That will be universal. The people of the United States will have to come to accept much tougher security measures when they board planes than they have done hitherto. We shall also have to do that.
My key point has already been referred to once or twice in the debate. Terrorists can operate only when they have havens from which they can do so. We shall have to take much tougher action against any state in the world providing sanctuary and safety for terrorists in order for them to plan and train for their deadly activities. If anything comes out of the events of this week I hope it will be a widespread international agreement--the Security Council has pointed the way--that will last not only for this week but will continue so that we can take steps in concert with our allies against any country which harbours terrorists and flaunts the fact that it is doing so.
The new United States Administration is faced with enormous difficulties so early in its life. However, we all acknowledge that the United States is a mature democracy. Our Government will support the US Administration in actions that it takes, knowing that those will be mature and responsible actions.
I should like to make two further points. First, I believe that we must redouble our efforts to provide an impetus for the Middle East peace process. That has been a running sore for many countries as well as a tragedy for all the people of the region, whether they be Palestinian or Israeli. I hope very much that the United States Administration, supported by ourselves and other governments, will bring more pressure to bear on the countries of the Middle East to secure a peace process which operates successfully.
Secondly, I turn to the Muslim community in this country. I hope that its members will continue to be respected as people who dislike and detest what they have seen taking place as much as everyone else. I hope too that they will not be victimised or treated as scapegoats for the dreadful events of recent days. Everyone should respect the Muslim community, the overwhelming majority of whose members wish to see an end to terrorism. I hope that the tolerance which we must demonstrate to the Muslim community will be fully extended to asylum seekers, in particular those
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, I shall not attempt to dwell on the poignancy and the horror of what we have seen this week. For my own part, I feel that any words of mine can now only seem banal. However, like other noble Lords who have spoken in the debate, I cannot forbear to express with all humility my immense admiration for the extraordinary courage that these events have called forth in so many people in America.
In facing what has happened, all of us wish to help as best we can, both individually and nationally. I shall mention only two matters in my remarks, which I hope will not be considered too minor to be worthy of inclusion in the debate. These are, first, the concept of national self-defence and, secondly, the concept of national retaliation. These concepts have already been touched on by my noble friend Lord Howe of Aberavon and so I shall be able to keep my remarks brief.
I shall preface what I wish to say by referring to the fact that the Prime Minister, rightly, admirably and at once, has placed our country to stand side by side with our American friends in their cruel adversity and, as he put it, to aid in the fight to eradicate terrorism from our world. Unhappily, in this country we have long experience of that fight, and in that regard I warmly endorse the words of my noble friend Lord Strathclyde in his speech earlier in the debate. I hold the view, already strongly expressed, that terrorism within a free society can nowhere claim immunity based either on nationality or on one particular view of history.
Today we must all hope that the pledge of support given by the Prime Minister will help to sustain President Bush in some measure. His responsibilities in deciding what steps America should now take, in consultation with her allies, are truly awesome. Inevitably, those steps will be momentous. I wish only to express the hope that, in fulfilling that pledge of support, Her Majesty's Government will think it right earnestly to counsel our American friends in the relatively young Administration to base their actions, whatever form they may take, firmly on the concept of national self-defence and not on that of retaliation. My noble friend Lord Howe pointed out that the concept of self-defence is far reaching and wholly sufficient in these circumstances.
I offer two reasons for those remarks. First, in international law a state will be justified in striking with focused and proportionate force if that is necessary to forestall an attack on it from elsewhere. That is only common sense. No state should be required to wait until an attack has in fact been launched and only then to try to parry the blow. There are good reasons for that: some blows and attacks simply cannot be parried. Tuesday's attack was such an event. Furthermore, no state is required is give an
That is the first reason why I believe that we should support America not only with warm, compassionate and sympathetic understanding, but also with conviction to urge them to base their actions on self-defence.
The second reason reinforces the first. International law simply does not recognise any doctrine of lawful retaliation as distinct from self-defence. No state may lawfully employ force simply and exclusively in pursuit of retaliation for a wrong already committed against it. In law, a state cannot punch back in order to punish, but it can do so in order to protect. Thus, I believe that it would be a great mistake to speak of retaliation. Surely it is wiser not to give any unintended forensic advantage to those who deserve none at all, but who would certainly exploit any advantage that they may be given, as would their friends and hangers-on, to whom the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, referred in her earlier remarks.
I do not expect a comment from the Government Front Bench today. Counsel to our American friends must be conducted in private. However, I hope that these thoughts, which I fear may have been expressed rather too simplistically, will find favour with the Government. Similarly, I am sure that each one of us hopes fervently for the full and lasting success of the response made by America and her allies to an infinitely evil and most devastating attack.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I too should like to start my brief remarks by expressing my deepest sympathy and condolences for the tragic loss of life in the events of Tuesday. I am very glad that the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House has agreed to the admirable suggestion that a message should be sent to Congress on behalf of us all.
I fully share the view that we and our other allies must help our American friends to track down those who can be proven to have been behind these terrorist outrages. But it is not only NATO and the European Union which should be involved; I hope that we also build on the expressions of sympathy and support which this week have come from what many of us would regard as unlikely quarters to ensure that the fight against terrorism is truly multilateral, universal and secular; namely, a campaign conducted against those who can plan and perpetrate a disaster of this magnitude.
The campaign must not be, nor must it appear to be, a war against Islam. I warmly welcome the words of the Minister on this point. Still less must it appear to be a war against the Arab world or the people of Palestine, many of whom, let us remember, are not Muslims. All of us, but perhaps most particularly the United States Administration, need to pause and examine the reasons for those shocking pictures of jubilant Palestinians which appeared on our television screens this week. They should have revealed to Washington what many of us have become disturbingly aware of for a long time; namely, the deep feelings of despair, anger and resentment in Palestine and across the whole Arab world at the extent to which the genuine grievances and suffering of the Palestinian people appear to be ignored by the West.
I am not arguing that any of that can excuse the blind and callous hatred that must have motivated those celebrations. However, unless the United States is prepared to re-examine its Middle East policies and to engage actively in a determined and even-handed effort to restore the peace process, any blanket retaliation for the attack against New York risks exacerbating precisely those feelings of resentment and anger, and encouraging more fanatics to join the ranks of suicide bombers and assassins.
I urge Ministers to accept that we must not allow our support for the United States, in its present fully understandable determination for quick revenge, to turn, or to be seen to turn, the so-called war against terrorism into a war against Islam or against those regimes in the Arab world and elsewhere of whose systems of government we disapprove. If we do, that clash of civilisations, which has been foreseen by Professor Huntington and others for many years, will become a reality. The implications of that, not only for our own foreign policy and interests, but for our large and growing Muslim population in this country, will be catastrophic. For Israel, the implications could literally be fatal.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, this is a most moving occasion. I have two points to make before I speak of my chief concern. First, one of the most important forms of help that we can offer is good intelligence. Are the services getting the money to pay for it? I doubt it. Defence and intelligence are the first things that governments cut. We must reverse that trend if we hope to be a truly valuable partner in the fight against terrorism. Secondly, we should review our policy on our own terrorists.
I fear that the temptation to argue for jaw-jaw instead of war-war will work with governments, but it does not with terrorists. The IRA has taken and taken, but given nothing. Canary Wharf was the IRA's version of the attack in the US. I beg the Government to stop weakening the forces that defend us--the RUC Special Branch for one--for the sake of being able to demonstrate that Sinn Fein/IRA is negotiating. It never has. All that it offered the last time that we were told of a significant breakthrough was to think how it
Like everyone else in the House, I have American friends who are dear to me. We were comrades in war and again in such countries as the Congo and Vietnam, as well as in Moscow. I love and admire them. I was moved to hear it reported on the radio yesterday that an American outside the embassy said, "If I had to be in any country other than America today, it would be England".
We will all rejoice that our Government have spoken so splendidly for the people in offering all the support that we can and that NATO has made its deeply significant commitment by invoking Article 5.
One area in which I have no doubt that we are helping is in the provision of any relevant intelligence that we may have. However, those resources will have been severely threatened and endangered by the recent action of the former head of the Security Service, and will be again when David Shayler comes to court.
Operations of the kind that brought down the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon are conducted by men and women. Technical intelligence and satellite coverage are no substitute for knowledge of intentions. That knowledge can come only from an agent among or close to those who are planning and conducting the operation. How many men and women with such access who might once have been willing to risk their lives and those of their families to tell us about such a threat will do so now that a former head of our Security Service is prepared to break the promise of silence that we all make, after years of rightly warning others not to do so? It is demeaning enough that she should have spoken as she is reported to have done--I hope that this is not true--of,
We cannot afford to have the media accusing the American security and intelligence services of failing to identify the threat in time. If we continue to allow former members of our security and intelligence services to write books about their lives, we shall pay the price in lost access to the intentions of terrorists. It takes a very brave man working with or close to such groups to take the risk of working for us. They have done so in the past because they trusted the services to preserve their anonymity. Good intelligence depends on trust between the agent and the service and between the service and Ministers. Trust, not treachery, is the key--trust and operational skills.
I have dealt in the past with some of those agents who have worked in terrorist groups. They are amazingly, unbelievably courageous. We shall need such agents badly in the coming months and years. I strongly urge that meretricious ideas about the freedom to write and speak at whatever cost to the interests of the nation and of those brave, unknown men and women should not be allowed to prevail. We
Lord Watson of Richmond: My Lords, it has been my privilege for a long time to be much engaged in the work of the English Speaking Union. Within hours of the terrible events earlier this week in New York and Washington, we lowered to half mast the two flags flown at the ESU's international headquarters in London at Dartmouth House--the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. We did so not only as a mark of sorrow and respect, which was clear, but as a gesture of solidarity.
We seek to promote global understanding among peoples by using the unique global reach of the English language. The organisation was founded in 1917 by Americans and Englishmen traumatised by the slaughter of the First World War. Their determination was to link the English-speaking countries in such a way that a second such catastrophe would prove impossible. In that ambition, of course, they failed.
Tuesday's horrors have outraged not only the United States and the NATO powers but people of other alliances and none and people of no faith and many faiths. I do not know how many of your Lordships managed to hear on Radio 4 yesterday the "Thought for the Day" given by Dr Zaki Badawi, the head of the Muslim College in London. He said:
In a real sense, this attack was against both the vision and the logistics of one world. It confronts the idea of a global village--born not only of technology but also of the global experience of two world wars and the world-wide economic recession that occurred between those wars--with another and very different idea. The terrorists' intent is never-ending conflict between incompatible causes fuelled by unquenchable hate. Our response must be the internationalisation of democracy. As suggested in earlier speeches today, this tragedy must mark the start of an unprecedented degree of co-operation between the world's democracies.
In recent years there has been much talk--some of it in this House--of Europe and America drifting apart or even drifting into and on to a collision course. The foundation of unprecedented co-operation between democracies must be that between the two sides of the Atlantic--the American Union and the European Union. The 21st century promises mayhem for us all if the vision of utterly opposed worlds replaces the vision of one world.
One world can develop only if Europe and the United States come together to a degree that they have never done previously. In that, our country--the United Kingdom--has a very special and vital role to play. We are clearly at the starting point of a new relationship between states. In order to meet that challenge there must be between democracies a degree of co-operation which so far we have not experienced. In the role that we play it is vital that not only do we think of security and the logistics of defence and response but that we ourselves are willing to contribute to joint decision-taking and to share sovereignty not against the threats of the Cold War but against the threat of an entirely new dimension.
Baroness Cox: My Lords, I join every other noble Lord in trying to express a sympathy, which must be beyond words, for the American people in the enormity of their suffering and to pay tribute to their dignity and heroism. In my contribution I wish to turn attention from the United States to the implications of the terrorist activities there for our own country.
The term "Islamism" is widely used to denote the violent, terrorist and militaristic ideology associated with many of the conflicts in the world today, such as those in Sudan and Chechnya. In highlighting the terrorist implications of Islamism, I am not in any way promoting Islamophobia; rather, the reverse. I am trying to avert it. Unless the distinction is made clearly between the adherents of violent Islamism and the vast majority of peaceable Muslims who live in our midst, there is a real danger of a backlash against the latter based on ignorance, confusion and emotional reactions to Islamist terrorism.
It has been emphasised rightly that there is as yet no definitive proof of the identity of the terrorists who perpetrated the atrocities on Tuesday. However, expert opinion and emerging evidence seem to point to groups operating under the sphere and influence of the Islamist leader, Osama bin Laden. But even if that connection is not found, the danger of Islamist terrorism at home and abroad remains.
Therefore, I recapitulate briefly some of the concerns that I raised previously. They were triggered by a Muslim friend, who gave me a video showing an Islamist training school in Sudan. I have seen the video. It shows very young boys and adult men being trained in the ideological and military aspects of jihad, or holy war, in its most militaristic form. It also shows a British businessman dispensing money in the jihad training school. It culminates in a call to international sympathisers to give their support to the international Islamist jihad. At the end of the video are details of an address in Leicester, here in England.
Investigative journalists subsequently visited that address. They gained the confidence of the person whom they met, who gave them the names and contact addresses of Islamist training centres and camps in this country. They attended and filmed some of the proceedings. Part of their footage has been shown on the television "Dispatches" programme. Among the scenes are sequences of the Afghan veteran Abu Hamza and Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of the fundamentalist group Al-Muhajiroun. They are encouraging young men in Britain not to obey the laws of this land but only to obey the laws of Allah. They claim that a jihad is being fought in this country and that they will not waste bullets on us, the kaffirs. Instead, they will whip out our intestines and crush our heads.
They are also shown teaching a large group of young men how to carry out terrorist tactics; for example, they show how to bring down an aircraft coming into an airport such as Heathrow. The film switches to a weapons expert, who confirms that their proposed method is feasible. Then the recruits are told that that particular measure is not important; what is important is for each of them to go away and to devise their own terrorist activities. It is a question of "kill or be killed".
The film also shows ways in which fear is being promoted among Muslims in this country, likening their predicament to that of Jews in Nazi Germany, with them becoming victims of another holocaust with wholesale slaughter on a genocidal scale, including the use of gas ovens. That fear, and the consequent emotive reaction, is then used to underpin the call to prepare for combat. The film portrays a training camp near Slough. It also describes how young men are being encouraged to go abroad to fight in jihads, where they will obtain military experience. I shall place a copy of that video in your Lordships' House.
We all know and deeply deplore the fact that racist attacks, which we all condemn, have taken place in this country. Muslims, as well as members of other communities, have suffered in those attacks. The Muslim community, together, indeed, with every citizen in this land, must be protected from racism and race-related violence.
There is also concern--indeed, it is held by many Muslims--that some who have an interest in violence may exacerbate the fear of racist attacks to such a level that justifies training for violence in the name of self-defence. Such training for violence might be deployed in ways that threaten peace and democracy because, as has already been said, democracy is inherently vulnerable to those who would destroy it; it is vulnerable to those who use the freedoms it enshrines to exploit and destroy those very freedoms. We know that that has been the case with groups committed to totalitarian ideologies on the far right and far left. We may be seeing a similar threat from Islamist terrorists.
I shall give five brief examples of causes for concern. First, the jihad for Chechnya, against Russia, was declared, ironically, in Friends' Meeting House in Euston Road. A colleague who attended that meeting described the warmongering and intimidating atmosphere; there were films of jihad warriors and repeated calls for money for war, for men to fight and for women to encourage their menfolk to fight against Russia. Not surprisingly, the Russian Federation was not best pleased that that took place in London.
Secondly, the Islamist terrorists arrested in Yemen on a terrorist mission had come from Britain. It is said that they were identified before carrying out their terrorist act because, coming from Britain, they had temporarily forgotten not to drive on the left-hand side of the road and were involved in a traffic incident.
Thirdly, two members of the Islamic Armed Group who were arrested in Birmingham came into this country with false passports to recruit and train supporters of Osama bin Laden. Fourthly, this week's Sunday Express reported concerns that refugees from Iraq may have been pressured by Saddam Hussein's security police to smuggle lethal pathogens into Britain. A senior intelligence officer is reported to have said:
Finally, Muslim friends and colleagues of mine from the Middle East endorsed what was said in yesterday's Daily Telegraph--they were unequivocal in describing Britain as being such a soft touch that we are viewed as the Islamist terrorist capital of the world.
The purpose of drawing attention to those issues is not to be a scaremonger; in contrast, it is to defuse fear by urging Her Majesty's Government to be seen to be taking such concerns with the utmost seriousness. The anti-terrorism legislation has resulted in much less overt activity, such as raising money for militant groups. I believe--I am sure that everyone agrees with this--that the Government should be congratulated on those aspects of that legislation. However, another possible result has been to drive activities underground. Committed activists such as Abu Hamza and Sheikh Bakri Mohammed are, I believe, still in this country. There is no indication that they have changed their ideological commitment and there is a fear that they are continuing their terrorist recruitment and training programmes, albeit more discreetly and underground. That is referred to in a large article in The Times today.
Any search of the websites associated with Al-Muhajiroun and the various link sites reveals many continuing activities that are designed to keep Britain actively involved in international jihad movements. Moreover, members of organisations such as Al-Muhajiroun have accompanied demonstrations with public incitements to hatred and violence. Characteristic cries include, "Death to America" and "Death to America the great Satan". To my knowledge, not one such member has been convicted. I therefore ask the Minister whether that is the case and, if so, why? Will the Government reassure the House that in future those found guilty of incitement to violence and of hatred offences will be prosecuted? Will they also assure the House that every effort will be made to ensure that there will be an end to the recruitment and training of terrorists in this country? As I said, articles in today's edition of The Times suggests that much more needs to be done, and to be seen to be done, on this issue.
Before concluding, I turn briefly to relevant international aspects of Islamist terrorism. In particular, I refer to Sudan, where the National Islamic Front took power by a military coup and holds it by the ruthless oppression of its own people. That Islamist regime represents no more than between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of the Sudanese people and is deeply loathed by the vast majority. It is waging jihad in its most brutal form against all who oppose it, including Muslims as well as Christians and traditional believers. It has created a toll of suffering--more than 2 million are dead and more than 5 million have been displaced. The sheer scale of that toll of tragedy exceeds that in Rwanda, Somalia and the former Republic of Yugoslavia put together.
When the subject of Sudan has been discussed in your Lordships' House the Government have tended to equate the violations of human rights committed by the NIF with those committed by the opposition forces. In any war, parties to the conflict are likely to violate human rights and groups such as the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement and Army, which is trying to defend the people, are no exception. However, that group's record of violations is a world away from the systematic and wholesale slaughter that is being carried out by the NIF. Moreover, the SPLM/A is working hard to establish civil society and to bring to account those who violate human rights. I therefore suggest that when Her Majesty's Government repeatedly imply that there is a symmetry between the NIF and the forces representing the opposition, they are seriously misrepresenting reality.
Oil seems to have bought friends and the British Government's policy of so-called "critical dialogue" with the Islamist NIF has become so long on dialogue and so short on effective criticism that it is seen by most of the Sudanese people as being shamefully complicit. For example, last year the Government violated the spirit of UN Security Council sanctions by inviting the NIF Foreign Minister to Britain on an official visit, when they gave him the red carpet treatment. The booklet published by the DTI provides implicit, if not explicit, encouragement to British businesses to invest, which thereby assists that Islamist terrorist regime to stay in power.
Britain's very soft approach to the Islamist NIF regime persists despite a compendium of recent news reports, which consistently shows links between Sudan, the terrorist Islamist leader Osama bin Laden and his terrorist organisation Al'Qaeda. It is also claimed that Sudan has not fully complied with UN Security Council resolutions demanding it to end assistance to terrorists.
I therefore ask the Government whether they will reconsider their policy towards Sudan, which involves doing business with this Islamist pro-terrorist regime. That helps it to stay in power and to become entrenched in the heart of Africa. Should not Her Majesty's Government consider joining the United States, which has adopted much more robust measures that call the regime to account, and condemn its leaders for crimes against humanity?
Lord Brennan: My Lords, the attack on America will take its place in history for two reasons. The first is the event itself; the barbaric killing and destruction, the wiping out within an hour or so, of thousands of innocent people. Until Tuesday last, such events were beyond our contemplation. They are now a reality. This is terrorism in a new dimension. To meet such new terrorism, new action and different ideas must be pursued.
The second reason will be the response of America, its allies and the democratic world. Response there must be. This was organised mass murder. The response to that crime must be strong. Pascal said, and rightly so, that force without justice is tyranny; justice without force is impotent. To combat the tyranny of terror, justice must be exercised with strength.
How is justice to be exercised? First, I refer to the responsibility of the United States and its allies. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, pointed out, it is a well-established principle of international law, enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, that a nation may defend itself if it is the subject of armed attack. Self-defence is not only a right; on occasions it may be a duty, for example, self-defence exercised against terrorists and those states which assist and harbour terrorists.
However, the critical question in the days and months to come will not be that of self-defence but whether the steps taken accord with the principles of law. They must be what is necessary and proportionate.
What of necessity? I refer to the bombing of the World Trade Centre in 1993, the bombing of the American embassies of East Africa in 1998, the declaration of war, so called, by its author, Osama bin Laden of 1996, calling for the liberation of Saudi Arabia from Americans and for that to be achieved by killing Americans, by which acts the killer will enter paradise. That is the reality which America faces and which had such terrible results on Tuesday last. Is there any reasonable person who would say that that will not happen again? The chilling word used by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London was "bio-terrorism", the appalling shock, perhaps, of an aircraft hitting a nuclear reactor. This form of terrorism will happen again unless we fight to stop it. Nobody can doubt the requirement of necessity.
What is proportionate? Proportionality in this context does not simply mean responding to the event one has suffered in equal measure. It is much more than that. Proportionate response in self-defence entitles one to take such steps as will control or seek to prevent this form of terrorism being committed against democratic nations. That may involve much greater measures than even the events of last Tuesday would at first sight justify, and all within the law.
If force has to be exercised, are not the appropriate standards by which to test it, first, in the words of the Prime Minister this morning, hard evidence, and, secondly, a rational assessment of what is needed? Thirdly, it must be reasonable force. Fourthly, it must be clinically directed at the terrorists and those organs of the state materially assisting the terrorists. And fifthly, lamentably but nevertheless appropriately, it should be relentless, for months if not years to come. All that is within the rule of law. That is what America and its allies must fulfil if they are to show responsibility to their people and protect them against terrorism.
Above and beyond that, what is the responsibility of the international community? No democracy is safe against terrorism. Action against it must be global. It must embrace nations, religions and communities. The time is right for action. As my noble friend Lady Symons said, what we need now is determined, collective action by the states of the world.
I must reassure the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, that vehicles for such action are in place. In 1994 the General Assembly of the United Nations made a declaration condemning international terrorism in all its forms. There are numerous conventions in existence and in draft form against terrorist bombing and the financing of terrorism. All that is required is that they be signed. Let us not waste time on the detail of how to implement such agreements internationally. Let us seize this moment to implement them. Such agreements have three objectives: first, to condemn terrorism from whatever source and in whatever form;
There must be no hiding place for the terrorists. Without a safe haven it is much more difficult for them to wage their war against us. Is not the time right when countries we have previously condemned, such as Libya and Iran, join the condemnation of such terrorist acts? Let us persuade them to join us in making these international agreements law now.
In conclusion, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London most wisely reminded us that we exist as nations to represent our people and that now, more than at any other time, we should rekindle, nurture and expand our convictions in goodness and democratic standards. Beyond that, as nations we should serve that requirement by co-operating together to fight terrorism. Terrorism must be defeated and it will be defeated through freedom and the rule of law.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, what happened on Tuesday was an act of gross barbarity, beyond all belief and beyond all understanding. It was a day of infamy and no words of mine are adequate to describe it. Your Lordships' House is united in its sense of revulsion and utter condemnation, a sentiment that I share. Tuesday 11th September will be for ever etched in our memories as the day that the forces of destruction and terror sought to strike at the very heart of free and democratic society and to undermine the foundations of civilisation itself.
I have two points to make. The first concerns the fragility of our modern democratic society. On Tuesday the very tools of our sophisticated democratic society were cruelly turned against us. Commercial passenger aeroplanes, the symbols of our amazing ability to traverse the globe in a matter of hours, became crude guided missiles. Skyscrapers, the symbols of our ability to build seemingly gravity-defying structures and to occupy not just the earth but the sky with our presence, caved in like towers of cards. Anyone who tried to get through to New York or Washington on that day or the next found that for hours all telecommunications, the bedrock of the information technology revolution, were jammed and useless. Paradoxically, we discovered that the more sophisticated our civilisation, the more vulnerable it is. Our advanced democracy is not only the greatest strength of modern society but its greatness weakness too and our goal must be its protection.
My second point concerns the questions, who, why and what now. Literally, as the dust settles, as the full horror of the events of Tuesday slowly begin to sink in and as numb disbelief hardens to bitter anger at the appalling and senseless loss of life, four questions are being asked above the cacophony of confusion: how, who, why, and what now?
President Bush has vowed that the culprits will be hunted down and punished. Of course, America will consider her options and take whatever immediate action she deems necessary. I am sure that all responses, but particularly military responses, will be considered and proportionate, and they must take place within a framework of the new nature of conflict. The need for vengeance is an all too understandable human emotion, particularly in these extreme circumstances, but vengeance without justice brings no relief at all.
From our experience of terrorism in this country we know how difficult it is to bring justice to the victims of terrorism. It is even more difficult when the perpetrators are, as yet, unknown and unnamed. We have seen only the face of evil and not the face of the enemy. Today the world is gripped by a state of heightened tension, fear and foreboding. Before this atrocity the situation in the Middle East was precarious and in turmoil. The scenes of revelry and elation in some parts of the Arab world--stomach churning though they were--nevertheless point to the legitimate concerns of an Arab backlash, which, in turn, could send the world into a further destabilising spiral. An ill-judged act of retribution--tit-for-tat terrorism--could serve only to spawn a whole new generation of suicide bombers, willing to martyr themselves for their cause.
To the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, I say that this is a war, although not a conventional one. It is of a kind that the West has never fought before. Any city, any building, any body is a target. It is a war between the forces of civilisation and of terrorism, between the forces of progress and of regress; between the forces of democracy and of tyranny. It is a grey war and it is one that must be fought on many fronts: economic, diplomatic, political, intelligence-gathering and law enforcement. The US Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, has spoken of a long-term conflict that will not be solved by a single counter-attack against an individual. He is right. Understandably, the American people want to see decisive leadership and robust action, and I would not be surprised by a decision to launch a measured military strike.
However, beyond that, on Tuesday we were brutally thrust into a new era for our security that goes right to the core of the freedoms and values that many of us take for granted. Suddenly everyday life is fraught with danger in a way that it never was before. Today's debate is understandably couched in the language of the 20th century, but it is a language that is becoming
The threat of the suicide bomber is one that we have not faced before on this scale, but we must now come to terms with it. For the security of our cities and towns, our friends and our families, we must pool all our resources to establish a co-ordinated, unified and above all international response against terror and the tactics of terror. As the Prime Minister has pledged, our mission must be to root out state-sponsored terrorism and by doing so reinforce President Bush's message that we make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbour them.
We can start by targeting the support networks of terrorists. No terrorist can act in isolation. Terrorists need shelter and they need finance. Osama bin Laden and his associates do not sit counting bank notes. He and other terrorist groups have sophisticated networks of bank accounts, financing and money laundering. It is bitterly ironic that Osama bin Laden is supported by the very global capitalism that he so despises. Only with a sustained international collaborative effort can we dry up the financial lifeblood that sustains him. The building of a broad-based coalition of Gulf states and allies, which could work to establish the identity of those responsible and to bring them to justice, is essential.
In conclusion, this outrage has struck at the core of who we are, how we define ourselves as a society and the freedoms and values that we take for granted. Our duty and our responsibility are clear. We have no choice but to face and to defeat the evil of mass terrorism. In the days ahead our actions will be the measure of our humanity, just as the terrorists' actions were a measure of their inhumanity.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, the apocalyptic nature of Tuesday's horrific events in New York and Washington will have left an indelible mark on us all. Many speakers have referred to that. The 11th September 2001 was a defining moment in human history. Our global village will never be quite the same again.
On this national and international day of mourning, we stand in solidarity with the United States of America, remembering, too, that many of our own citizens are grieving the loss of loved ones. In the prayers earlier this morning, we heard the words from Psalm 46 which instil comfort and courage in the darkness that has engulfed the lives of thousands of people during these days:
At a meeting yesterday of Church leaders from Essex and part of east London, we sat in the round. In the centre the two-page spread of The Times presented to us that mind-numbing picture of the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre; and on
The "why", "how" and "what" questions will continue to be asked. As we all recognise, one of the searching questions focuses on how to grapple with the intense and shattering sense of vulnerability and powerlessness that these barbarous acts of terrorism have created. If the world's superpower can be attacked so easily, who or what is safe elsewhere?
Such naked vulnerability and powerlessness can lead, as we know so well, not only to anger but also to intense fear coupled with the desire for revenge and retaliation. Evil acts have to be resisted. The perpetrators of these terrorist atrocities cannot be allowed to go unpunished. This has been a consistent theme today. But another consistent theme has been the recognition of the need for much wisdom, caution and restraint. That needs to be paramount; otherwise the lives of thousands more innocent people could well be sacrificed.
Furthermore, within this country every possible way and means must be found to ensure that in our community the fear of the mindless backlash that could happen--inevitably, that fear exists among many of our citizens who are from other ethnic and religious, especially Muslim, backgrounds--is countered with firmness right from the start.
A number of speakers have today referred to Colin Powell. Towards the end of his stirring autobiography, he expresses some of his own convictions about leadership. One is succinctly put: "It can be done". As we face some of the greatest tasks with which we are confronted in our global world, those words can be taken afresh as we look ahead in solidarity with all who have that vision for a free and just world: "It can be done".
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, it is clear that the whole House welcomes the opportunity given by the return today of Parliament, first, to express our deepest sympathy to the thousands of families in so
As details of what happened on each hijacked plane unfolds, it is clear that there were some extraordinary acts of bravery in attempting to save life on those flights before they crashed. We should pay tribute to those passengers who did their best.
The debate also gives us the chance to make it clear that as friends and military allies we stand alongside the United States in our determination to defeat world terrorism. Every speech in the debate so far has been very much in accord with that theme. We have to be clear what the purpose of the retaliation is to be when it comes. Its aim must be to deter and prevent future outrages. It must be proportionate, as so many speakers have already said. "Proportionality" was defined clearly and well by my noble friend Lord Brennan. To mount military attacks on the civilian population of any country solely or mainly to satisfy a demand for retribution would be understandable but it would be neither right nor effective. It would dangerously increase world tension and add huge numbers of recruits to the causes of extremism and terrorism. I am sure that our Ministers in Her Majesty's Government, along with all our allies, will continue to make that point clear to our American friends while at the same time continuing to demonstrate that we share their grief and determination not to allow democracy to be extinguished by acts of this kind.
The debate also allows the House to express its full support for the emergency precautions taken across this country in response to this week's event. We have heard that security measures at United Kingdom airports have been stepped up; that additional checks are being carried out on passengers before they board aircraft; and a ban imposed on flight paths over London, now shortly to be lifted. Such prompt and decisive action is very welcome. It offers reassurance to people in this country and to those flying within and from the United Kingdom that everything possible is being done to safeguard their safety. But I think that it is right to ask my noble friend Lord Bach whether he will be able to give any indication of how long those additional measures will remain in force. It is important that the right balance is struck between security and freedom, so that we can return to normality as swiftly as possible. We must not allow terrorists to frighten us or to prevent us flying. We cannot let them ground our airlines, cut off our trade links or restrict our freedom of movement.
Standards of security at Britain's airports are already the highest in the world. There are no differences, for example, between the level of security screening for passengers and their luggage on domestic flights and that for passengers on international flights departing from this country. So while the imposition
We may have complete confidence in the security arrangements for aircraft departing from this country, but can we be as confident that the same standards apply to all aircraft bound for the UK or crossing UK airspace, particularly those arriving from the Middle East or from other troubled areas of the world? Aircraft entering British airspace and landing at British airports are required to pass standards of air-worthiness: the CAA is the regulatory authority that enforces standards in this country and other countries have similar bodies. It is done by means of international treaties and protocols. But should there not be equivalent air-worthiness certificates as regards security arrangements at all international airports? Is there no international convention that can insist on the proper standards and procedures being followed?
Finally, in his reply will my noble friend give an assurance that security on board aircraft is being reviewed and strengthened? There have been horrific examples of deranged and drunken people gaining access to the cockpits of passenger aircraft. Until this week, such incidents had hardly ever led to catastrophe. However, we are bound to wonder how it is possible for relatively lightly armed individuals to gain complete control of four aircraft. Would the outcome on Tuesday have been different had the cockpit doors been secure and had some form of panic alarm been available to the crew in the passenger section? I realise that these are questions for consideration later, but it is vital to address them.
Meanwhile, I welcome the opportunity for those of us in this House to show our American friends how much we care and are thinking about them at the end of this terrible week. Perhaps I may share with the House the contents of an e-mail that I received from two friends of my wife and myself living in New England. We were due to fly out to visit them on Sunday; obviously, that is not now possible. They wrote:
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, perhaps I may begin by referring to the theme introduced by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London; namely, the need to reduce the reservoir of hatred on which terrorism feeds. I want to refer to two countries in that respect, the first being Israel.
I yield to no one in my acceptance and support for the state of Israel and its right to exist. Equally, I believe that Israel is justified in pursuing those individual terrorists who have attacked and killed its citizens. However, Israeli policies on the West Bank
I now turn to Iraq. I do not believe that the weird, fanatical figure lurking in the mountains of Afghanistan, filled with remorseless hatred though he may be, would be capable of orchestrating--although he may have inspired--the attack on the United States. It is much more probable that Saddam Hussein is the one behind it. He could well have set up a shadow organisation, allegedly speaking and acting on behalf of bin Laden, whose members would have recruited the fanatical fundamentalist terrorists, planned their operation and sent them into action.
The sanctions of the past 10 years have failed. They have merely enabled Saddam to continue to suppress and torment the mass of his people while indulging his own henchmen. I remember Sir Stephen Egerton, one of our best known diplomatists, telling me only two weeks after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait that two things must be remembered about him: first, he is a Samson who will pull everything down with him; secondly, he will never be toppled from within. Therefore, assuming that my earlier hypothesis is proved even partly right, we may have reached the stage where it is necessary to launch a final phase of Desert Storm to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein and his family. The sanctions have merely caused one of the reservoirs of hatred to which the right reverend Prelate referred.
I also mention Syria and Iran. There are signs that those two countries are seeking to come in from the dark and to rejoin the civilised world to which they have made so notable a contribution throughout history.
An important economic factor has not so far been mentioned in the debate. The economic consequences of 11th September could be severe. They could trigger a downward spiral in economic activity. Therefore, I believe that, as part of the international coalition, OPEC should be told to sell oil massively into the futures market and to increase production so as to reduce the price of oil to 20 dollars a barrel from its present level of 29 dollars. That would give an immediate tax cut to the rest of the world and would help to prevent the world recession which I believe now looms.
I make four points about fighting terrorism. First, I echo and underline the comment by my noble friend Lady Park about the need to sustain our intelligence capability. The nature of what happened on 11th September may suggest that the time has come at least to consider the amalgamation of MI6 and MI5 in this country.
Thirdly--this is a simple point--I refer to the need to accept outside advice; the need for those responsible for security not necessarily to think that they know it all. I tell two very small stories. In about 1978, when I was the parliamentary lobby correspondent for the Economist, with some horror I noticed the apparent total lack of security in the underground car park in the House of Commons. I wrote to the then Serjeant-at-Arms to point that out. The result was that my editor received a letter from him complaining of my impertinence in inquiring into something which did not concern me.
I remember very well a conversation I had in that car park with my friend Airey Neave a short time before his tragic death. I said to him, "I hope, Airey, that the police are looking after you properly". He replied, "Oh, in the country they take good care of me".
Fourthly, we need to reassess the necessity for national identity numbers and, possibly, identity cards. I emphasise the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Owen, in his remarkable speech when he spoke of the right that we have to safeguard our own borders. We are one of the relatively few countries that do not even have national identity numbers. Various governments have considered the issue. They have rejected it either because it is not in accordance with human rights or because it is unduly expensive. Of course the expense argument goes out of the window with the scale of the matters at which we are now looking.
With regard to civil rights, frankly, I have always seen the identity card as something of equality. It means that everyone has it: civis "whatever" sum. It puts everyone on an equal standing. It makes it less likely that certain people might be unduly persecuted or interviewed. Therefore, I hope that the Government will look again at the matter. This morning on Radio 4 I was pleased to hear the Home Secretary indicating that the Government would once again be looking at the matter.
In conclusion, there is one point on which I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire: this is likely to happen again. I believe that fighting terrorism, perhaps like war itself, is to some extent dependent on the skills of the chess board: it is by hypothecating the moves of the enemy that one can make moves to frustrate them.
Lord Newby: My Lords, I wish to concentrate my remarks in this debate on the economic consequences of Tuesday's events. I doubt whether there is a single Member of your Lordships' House who believes that the battle against terrorism will be won exclusively, or even predominantly, on the battlefield. Diplomacy
The terrorism which we have seen this week--assuming that it has emanated from bin Laden or some combination of similarly-motivated groups--is motivated by a desire not only to damage America's self-confidence, but also to strike a blow against the most visible manifestations of US-style capitalism.
If this analysis is correct, and, in any event, it is crucial that the world acts in the short term to ensure that the global economy, which is already at a fragile point of the economic cycle, is not plunged into global recession. It must also examine why globalisation, which many of us believe brings many benefits, has become a focus of increasing anger and indeed violence.
The possibility of recession has been brought nearer by Tuesday's events. Some sectors--insurance, airlines and tourism--will be particularly hard hit. The financial services sector, paradoxically, although literally taking the largest immediate hit, will be severely disrupted, but I suspect that it will bounce back fairly quickly.
However, more importantly, this week's events could have a severe downward impact on consumer and business confidence. As far as concerns consumers, there is likely to be a severe short term reduction in expenditure in the US, at least. Quite simply, when you are grieving, you do not go out shopping. Also the uncertainties and fear for what might happen next is quite likely to result in many consumers drawing in their horns and postponing expenditure decisions well beyond the US.
In business many decision-makers considering whether to embark on expanding production or undertake new investment, will be equally tempted to delay such decisions until the international outlook becomes clearer. Furthermore, if US military action takes place, in part at least in the Middle East, and oil producers are affected, rising oil prices will increase the degree of uncertainty further. This combination of events is quite likely to make investors very nervous and less willing to invest in anything but the most blue chip equities or government debt. They will certainly not be prepared to provide funds for many high risk enterprises, including many of the small and medium sized businesses which have provided the bulk of new jobs in recent times, and which will be crucially important if the economy is to move forward rather than to move into recession.
If a serious recession occurs, it would not just affect the US, Europe and Japan but would damage all other economies, rich and poor alike, and undermine both the arguments for and perceived benefits of an increasingly open and free international trading and economic environment.
What then should be done in the short term by the world's leading economies and the world economic community? There have been welcome statements by the Fed, the ECB and other central banks that they will
A statement by G8 that an active interest rate policy should now be entertained is the crucial first step which it should take. To pick up a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, it should also recommit itself to a more rigorous regulatory framework for dealing with money laundering. At the moment the framework is not adequate to deal with the kind of group which we appear to be dealing with. A commitment at the highest level is needed, and top down from the world's greatest economy, to see what further action is needed.
However, beyond those areas of concerted action, it will also be for individual G8 members to take specific action that is uniquely appropriate for them. In the case of the United States, there are now probably good arguments for the Bush tax cuts to be brought forward. There is also an argument--although I suspect that it appeals more to me than to President Bush--that, at a time of unparalleled national unity, there is a very strong case indeed for those tax cuts to benefit all Americans equally, rather than being concentrated at the top end of the income scale.
In the case of Japan, the need for more rapid restructuring and measures to expand demand is paramount--it was in any event but is even more so now. Here, the other G8 members must surely cajole and, indeed, reassure Prime Minister Koizumi that they will give him not only strong vocal but any practical support that they are able to bring about those changes.
In respect of oil prices, about which a number of noble Lords have spoken, pressure should be brought to bear, especially on Saudi Arabia--here the United States obviously has an especially important part to play--to stand prepared to step up oil production to keep prices down. It has been a slight surprise to me that having increased somewhat, oil prices have not
Those measures, taken together and undertaken under the aegis of a G8 agreement, are vital in themselves, but could also be a defining moment for the G8 to demonstrate that it can be an effective international institution and not just an expensive and elegant talking shop.
However, even if all those measures were taken and were successful, a longer term economic challenge to the developed world has been cast into stark light by Tuesday's events. It is an unfortunate fact that an increasing number of individuals and groups, especially in the poorer south, have drawn and are drawing the conclusion that the only way out of poverty and to achieve greater global equality and sustainability is through violence. Those groups are not exclusively or even predominantly Islamic. They have supporters in mainstream environmental groups, especially in Latin America but also elsewhere. They include middle-class European graduates.
I have no more sympathy with their methods than with those of the perpetrators of Tuesday's disaster, and I believe that the changes in the world economic order that fall under the term globalisation can in many cases be extremely beneficial to economies and individuals in all parts of the world. Globalisation is not necessarily a process that benefits only the rich. However, current levels of global inequality in terms of income, social provision and environmental conditions are unsustainable. That must be more urgently addressed by the world economic community of both states and companies operating internationally.
Next year's Earth Summit in South Africa is the next major global opportunity effectively to come to grips with those issues. It is essential that all of us--but especially America, which will find it especially difficult--play a full part in the preparations for that conference and show a new determination to reach agreements and then to stick to them.
The battle against poverty and environmental degradation should be a high priority for all those concerned about the future of our civilisation and our planet, but, crucially, it should also be seen as a key component in the long-term battle against terrorism.
Lord Bridges: My Lords, I venture to speak in this debate realising that I cannot hope to match the knowledge and experience of two of my colleagues on the Cross Benches--first, my noble friend Lord Wright of Richmond who has already spoken and, secondly, my noble friend Lord Hannay of Chiswick from whom we look forward to hearing shortly. However, I feel personally involved in the subject, partly because I spent four years in the embassy in Washington in the 1970s dealing with some of the matters being discussed here. I frequently visit the
However, there are some disquieting elements in the public response that we have seen and heard up to now. Perhaps, understandably, some in the United States speak of an act of war. I know what they mean, and the United States as a state has certainly been the object of external aggression. But the aggressor has not yet been certainly identified, and we should perhaps not speak of belligerence as a response until we know more certainly with whom we are dealing. I doubt whether a formal invocation of the North Atlantic Treaty is appropriate. Of course, we must come together and support our American friends and allies. I understand the strong feelings that exist about that, but the circumstances are not analogous with those of the entry of the United States into the Second World War, as has been suggested in the United States.
I am especially interested in the effect of what has happened in America on public opinion there about the International Criminal Court. It is not impossible that the United States Government will change their attitude on that matter, in which case the establishment of the court as an effective worldwide body would fit well into the comprehensive programme so impressively outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, in his maiden speech.
I should like to illustrate one danger that arises in such situations by referring to the case of Chechnya. We all know that Moscow made the decision to restore--as it saw it--public order in Chechnya, for which it felt that it had responsibility, and it acted with vigour and military might in defence of its perceived security duties. What followed is known to us all and will leave a legacy of hatred and distrust that will last for a long time. Of course, the parallel is by no means exact, but it clearly illustrates the dangers of acting on the spur of the moment in response to strong pressure from public opinion. The long-term consequences were not fully appreciated or taken into account.
We have good reason to be careful and selective in any measures that may be directed against an Islamic or Arab state. The world of Islam itself is not united, and we should not ourselves create a unity in the Islamic world that is directed against the West. After all, we have a substantial number of Muslims living among us as members of our society, and I should like to thank the Prime Minister for the very wise words that he addressed to them. I believe that he struck exactly the right note.
There is much truth in that; it puts the whole problem in a nutshell. We must retain our many friends, allies and trading partners in the world of Islam, and policy must be directed to that end, among the other objectives.
I have one more detailed comment on a point raised most recently in the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, about civil aviation. No doubt civil aviation authorities around the world will be considering what happened and examining some of the questions that he raised; no doubt our own authorities will do the same. The point I want to make relates to the particular vulnerability of London. The geographical situation of our main civil international airport and the fact that the prevailing wind comes mostly from the west means that the large majority of international flights arriving in this country travel directly over our heads here at Westminster and the most inhabited parts of central London. That situation needs to be considered. As the Government have begun an inquiry into the future of airports in the South East, the matter could well be examined in that context.
I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Bach, who is kindly listening to what I say, that a change has come about in the possibility of re-examining Foulness as an airport. That had previously been agreed but for reasons of public finance it was cancelled by a previous government. However, the Channel Tunnel rail link has since been settled and its line would form a convenient point of access to Foulness from central London. I hope that that proposal can be embraced in the current inquiry, given the renewed anxiety about security in international civil aviation.
In conclusion, I emphasise that the principal danger is the need to balance the urgent pressures resulting from public opinion, which are entirely sensible and understood, and their long-term effects. That is the ultimate challenge which faces the Government and I commend the approach which they are adopting.
Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, what I have to say will not take long. I appreciate that the sentiments I express will be the same as those of many others who have already spoken, most of whom, because of their wide experience, will have expressed them better. Nevertheless, the horror suffered by the United States of America, and particularly the people of New York, Washington and Pittsburgh, has moved me to make my feelings and views known in the debate.
Watching the scene unfold repeatedly on television since Tuesday 11th September has been virtually unbelievable. It appeared to me more like the making of a blockbuster film than reality. But it was reality and the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children was reality. That we must not for one moment forget.
We are all rightly outraged by the obscene and unforgivable acts of terrorism to which the United States of America has been so tragically subjected. Our feeling of outrage is without limit and this feeling
As has been said so often in the past few days, this vicious form of terrorism, using suicidal terrorist assassins, is an attack not only on the United States of America but an attack on the whole of the civilised world, the democratic free world. And what has been so very sickening for me is the expression of joy demonstrated by Palestinians in the West Bank and the reports of statements made on Iraqi television.
There is no doubt in my mind, and I suspect in everyone's mind, that this atrocity has been perpetrated by fanatical Arab terrorists with Islamic fundamentalist connections. Many may not believe that we are at war but, make no mistake, these terrorists certainly believe they are at war. And this act of enormous cruelty is certainly an act of war.
Of course a response must come from the whole of the democratic world and we must unequivocally stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans in their hour of great sorrow and great need. I share the view that has been expressed that there must be no distinction between those who are the terrorists and the countries which harbour them. Without the protection of such countries, this terrorist atrocity could not have been planned, programmed and cruelly executed.
The democratic world is a free world and if we want this freedom for our children and our grandchildren, we must protect it. Our united intelligence sources throughout the whole of the civilised world must be co-ordinated to a much greater extent in the future. This tragedy must focus all our attention. The world will never be the same.
Many Arab nations have expressed horror and condemnation at this atrocity and this is to be welcomed. But it is my view that these nations should do more. These nations should clearly demonstrate by their actions that they will not tolerate these Islamic fundamentalist fanatics who are prepared to kill thousands of innocent people by suicidal means. If we are to have any hope of protecting and preserving our way of life--and we have a priority duty to the people we represent to do just that--we must demonstrate it to the world.
We have so often not been prepared to act against such outrages because we are not terrorists and we are often afraid to act in retaliation because it would be seen as a betrayal of the way we live and a betrayal of what we believe. I have been wholly in sympathy with that view. But this holocaust has stretched our political correctness and our tolerance beyond reasonable and rational limits. The horror of New York on 11th September 2001 means we have now been pushed further than ever before and this evil must now be punished and stamped out.
These suicidal fundamentalist fanatics have but one objective--that is to destroy utterly the existence of the free democratic and civilised world that we cherish. As is said so often, for evil to triumph it takes only good
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, like other noble Lords, I cannot find the words adequately to express the depth of my dismay at Tuesday's events in America or of my sympathy for the families of those who have lost their lives.
Like other noble Lords, too, I believe it is gravely important that western democracy now makes a clear and unshakeable distinction between the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims who live in our midst and the violent Islamists who, whether or not they committed these atrocities in America, certainly embody the greatest threat of international terrorism today.
If I have an interest to declare it is that of chairman of an international business. I have many friends in the peace-loving Muslim community throughout the world and I have many friends in Israel, too. I know that they all stand united and aghast at what happened in America. They would all agree with noble Lords who fervently hope that the inevitable retaliation from the United States, when it comes, will be so targeted and just that it will not strengthen the violent Islamists' cause at the expense of the peace-loving Muslim community. So I join with others in congratulating the President and his Administration in Washington who have shown that they are well aware of this. We can but pray that their hand will be guided by the forces of good against the forces of evil when the time comes.
There are three aspects of the violent Islamist phenomenon which are perhaps still generally underestimated in the West. The first is that we do not appear to know just how widespread the violent Islamist creed has become or how fast it may be growing. My noble friend Lady Cox referred to some of the activities going on right here in the UK and no doubt the Government will take the appropriate action in respect of those. At least, I hope they will, because I gather that the Home Secretary Mr Blunkett was less than gracious towards my noble friend on the "Today" programme this morning when he apparently said that she should use her mind before her mouth and put any evidence she might have about violent Islamists training in this country on his desk. That is very unfair. No one has done more than my noble friend to alert the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic to the dangers that we all now know we face. I trust that she and the Home Secretary can meet for a fruitful discussion soon.
In returning to the subject of the widespread nature of violent Islamism, I cannot but help remember a chilling private conversation I had some five years ago with one of the rulers of a peace-loving Muslim country in the Middle East at a conference which was
As to what we might do in this country about what may be happening here, I suggest that Ofsted could be invited to keep any eye open for any indoctrination or incitement to violence which may be taking place in our schools. I feel that I have a little authority to make that suggestion since for nearly 10 years I have supported in this House the creation of Muslim schools, starting with a debate on 4th March 1991, at cols. 1277 to 1279 of the Official Report.
Another aspect of violent Islamism that has been generally underestimated, although it has now been made horribly clear, is the religious fanaticism with which its adherents believe in it--to the point of suicide in its cause. If violent Islamism (and other terrorism too, of course) represents the new evil in the world, as the Prime Minister has so rightly said that it does, it will have one powerful advantage which was not enjoyed by the last great evil on the planet, now largely defeated; that of communism. Very few people who lived under communism seem to have believed in it for many years before the Wall came down. They were subjugated largely by fear of the brutality meted out to those who dared to seek the freedom of democracy. This is, of course, the mechanism used by most Fascist regimes to stay in power.
But with violent Islamists, it is and will be different. They do believe in it; they believe in it totally. I fear that this also gives them a rather worrying edge over most of us who have the great privilege to live in western democracies and who have come to take our freedoms so much for granted that we no longer realise how fortunate we are. Most of us have lost our spiritual roots.
The third aspect is the quality of the people who have been converted and are converting to violent Islamism, many of them in this country. They are not just uneducated denizens of the desert who are easily misled. They can fly aeroplanes, as we now know, and doubtless are also capable of other sophisticated activity. These and other aspects of the growing violent Islamist phenomenon obviously call for a new level of awareness in all of us.
In that respect, I should put on the record in this debate an incident in this House which indicates that our authorities have been somewhat complacent recently about the threat from violent Islamism to a Member of this House, and indeed to the Palace of Westminster. I refer to the jamming of the speech made by my noble friend Lady Cox on 12th January 2000 when she raised with great courage and clarity the
|Back to Table of Contents
|Lords Hansard Home Page