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Earl Russell: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, I want to say how glad I am about what she has said. Is she aware that in the century after the gunpowder plot English Roman Catholics went through everything that she has described as happening to British Muslims? I express the hope that her co-religionists will benefit from our learning from that experience and come out of these difficulties a great deal faster than did the Roman Catholics.
Baroness Uddin: My Lords, I am always humbled by the knowledge of the noble Earl.
Lord Elton: My Lords, on 11th April 1988 the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, made a remarkable speech in the City Hall in Oxford. He was addressing a global survival conference of spiritual and political leaders from all around the world and from all faiths. His first sentences were:
The conference was a most extraordinary occasion. On entering the hall the first thing one saw was an enormous photograph, faultlessly accurate, beautifully colour-correct, of the world suspended in space, taken from space. During that conference I heard from one astronaut, as I have heard from another subsequently--one was American and the other Russian, speaking before the end of the Cold War--saying that once one is up there one cannot understand the difficulties or what the fighting is about. In fact, one cannot see the Great Wall of China, let alone the Berlin Wall, from space. Seeing that photograph made one realise that, beautiful and substantial though it is, we live on a frail raft capable of sustaining human life in an incalculably enormous void entirely hostile to life. Our common interest is to keep the raft afloat. That is so constantly lost sight of.
People see this photograph more and more in newspapers. They discuss space. They recognise that we are together on one finite and fragile place. I do not know about noble Lords or the great mass of the public, as we like to call them, but I find it extraordinarily difficult to think of myself as a member of the human race. I can think of myself as a Briton, a European and a Christian. My nationality is clear. My loyalty is to my country; or is it to my community or to the human race?
If we are living on a fragile raft in an immensity of hostile space, then surely our first loyalty must be to humanity. From space one can see it; and it is not doing very well. Humanity is occupying itself in deliberately destroying each other--and its environment, as it were, unintentionally. The two problems are linked. But in today's debate it is political and economic issues rather than the environmental issue which should concern us.
The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, asked: how can there be so much hate in the world? It is not enough to recognise the hatred. One has to understand it and its causes. It seems to me that there are two sets of causes. There is the prime cause which I think we shall never entirely understand of those who perpetrate atrocities of the kind we debate. Then there is the political, social and economic context in which they are perpetrated. Even the most dangerous bacterium cannot survive in
If we look at ourselves from outside we see very well-fed, well-housed, very comfortably off people suddenly very frightened by an attack on a central institution. If you happen to be one of a nation of which two-thirds is below the poverty line and a half is actually starving, that looks somewhat different. If you are in an underdeveloped country which has earlier imported a television system from America, as many did and as a cheap add-on got their soap operas, their long-running social dramas, about fat people in comfortable houses distressed about what to do about what look like quite incalculably small difficulties when considering the alternatives the viewers face of starvation or total oppression, you then begin to see America, which we recognise from inside the western group as being the standard bearer of independence and freedom, as being at the centre of an engine which is feeding, clothing and comforting very large numbers of people who have turned their backs on us except when you are prepared to pay for something.
If that is how we look, to some extent it must be how we are. Therefore, I go back to the global survival conference and select one of the paragraphs in its final statement which says:
Therefore, one of the issues which must be addressed by the alliance is a new approach to the world economy as well as to the world deployment of military and political force. This is like one of those stars which has two centres. That is the economic centre. The political and spiritual centre is that there has to be an understanding of each other's faiths and a living of them. As numbers of noble Lords have said, Allah is described as the compassionate and the merciful. There is no more to fear from Allah than there is to fear from God for those who are just. That reflects again on the distribution in the world.
When one has theological polarity, to coin a phrase, as we have seen in Ireland and as we are now seeing between East and West, one gives to the terrorists, the extremists on either side, the ability to produce a caricature of those to whom they are opposed. Fat Uncle Sam, with his cigar, standing on the sweated
I do not wish to speak longer than anyone else. I believe that this is a moment of quite exceptional historical criticality. We must recognise that we have to step outside our existing concepts of who we are and what our economies are and look at them from the outside, seeking once more to become one world as well as one nation. If we are not one world we shall soon be no world at all.
Lord Grenfell: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he accept from a humble Back-Bencher on this side that he has introduced into this debate a dimension which I hope will not be lost on those who will be making world-shaking decisions in the days to come? I thank him very much for his speech.
Lord Elton: My Lords, I can think of no permission that it would give me greater pleasure to give.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, this is one debate where repetition is essential. Like every noble Lord, I express condolences, in words which are inadequate, to the American public and the tens of thousands who have been directly and indirectly affected.
I wish to say a word about the reference made by the Prime Minister in his Statement to the House of Commons this morning, concerning the City of London and the insurance world. Reference was made to it by my noble friend Lord Wallace and the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon. Yesterday I attended a board meeting of a major Lloyd's underwriter, Faraday, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, at which the issues referred to by the Prime Minister were discussed.
I want to make two points on the matter. First, the insurance world is confident that, despite the unprecedented levels of claims in this ghastly case, it can and will meet all of them. There may be some failures on the part of minor secondary insurers, but there is no doubt but that the markets will sustain the massive losses incurred. What is more, I believe that the "can do" spirit that has marked New York since 11th September is also present in the City of London, albeit from a distance.
My second point, to which the Government may wish to give some thought, is that there is a major problem as regards the terms on which a great deal of the relevant insurance has been written; namely, whether or not this series of events constituted an act of war. If so, a great deal, if not the majority, of the
Perhaps I may refer briefly to the three dominant components of the situation: military, legal and political. My concern is that we should not overload our expectations of the military response. In the first place, a war against a state is a simple matter compared with a war against an unknown adversary operating from an unknown place entirely covertly. I cannot imagine anything that will tax the wisdom and perseverance of military leaders as well as politicians more than the circumstances prevailing here. A further point is that the zealot is always more ruthless than the lawful soldier and security officer. One of the problems in considering a security response to what happened on 11th September will be just that.
My third point, made by many speakers, relates to the security problems that will be caused in future by modern mobility. Many of the hopes expressed--for example, as regards stopping money laundering--are apt to be futile. I say that with deep regret, but realism forces us to the conclusion that no amount of security, vigilance, law or regulation will be able, in this global village, to stop the covert, determined operator from going about his or her deadly work. That is partly for the reason mentioned by my noble friend Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon. My noble friend rightly said that a man armed not only with explosives but with the determination to die is effectively unstoppable.
I believe that we have overloaded our expectations of the law in this situation. Again, it was my noble friend Lord Ashdown who suggested a new Geneva convention that can distinguish between the terrorist and the freedom fighter, between the democratic state and the undemocratic state. As a long-in-the-tooth practising lawyer whose firm does a great deal of immigration and asylum work, I must tell the House that these hopes are apt to be confounded. One reason that we have the immigration and asylum problem that we do is precisely because of the interminable and intractable problem of deciding who is a genuine asylum seeker and who is not. The notion that we can, let alone tomorrow but today, tell from among the many Afghan refugees who is a terrorist or potential terrorist and who is not is sheer cloud cuckoo-land.
That brings me to the political dimension. It strikes me that, above and beyond anything else, unless we get the politics right, nothing else can be right. If we get the politics more or less right, then anything benign could follow. The events of 11th September took place
I hope noble Lords will not think it presumptuous of me to suggest that the fundamental natural right termed by lawyers "audi alteram partem"--"hear both sides"--is not one that we have applied by and large in this country and in the western world. I do not believe that present considerations in the Middle East have been fully, impartially and equally heard in this country, and certainly not in the United States of America.
If the politics are to be got right, we must influence hearts and minds--not merely the hearts and minds of all of us who agree anyhow, but those of people who, as was described by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, live in totally different circumstances and who have different mindsets. We must influence them, or we shall fail.
Perhaps I may use a phrase coined either by the noble Lord, Lord Owen, or by the Prime Minister. Yes, we must be "tough on terrorism", but also "on the causes of terrorism"--which is not so easy. Every speaker has rightly referred to the devastation of 11th September in terms of an attack on democracy, freedom and justice. However, we need to understand that there are parts of the world where none of those cherished virtues exists and where, therefore, our plea for solidarity in defence of them is not only irrelevant but scorned as western hypocrisy. Hypocrisy, because of course in some places where democracy, freedom and justice are absent those denied them believe that the West is partly, if not principally, implicated in the denial.
My whole stance on this matter was radically altered by a trip I made in February to Syria and Lebanon. I put my hand up to confess a pathetic lack of comprehensive understanding of the facts and circumstances. I went into the Sabra-Shatila camp for an afternoon. I have also been to the Favelas of Brazil and in the townships of Africa during the days of apartheid. I have to tell your Lordships that that camp and the 58 others that at this moment exist are filled with Palestinian refugees who have been there since 1948. The camps are indescribable. It is not that they do not have food, some kind of shelter, medical help or schools, but the despondency and the degradation there cannot be described. It cannot be imagined.
When one realises that there are 3.7 million Palestinian refugees registered with the UN agency responsible for looking after them--3.7 million, the population of Wales--and 1.2 million of them in those 59 dreadful camps spread among Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, how can we seriously pretend that more laws, co-operation, arms or better intelligence will touch the root of the problem?
The camps are a breeding ground for the very hatred and the very zealotry which, as other noble Lords have said, cannot be stopped militarily. So, without attempting at this hour of night to go further, I just urge the House and the Government, however painful
Viscount Slim: My Lords, I see that I am last on the list although I understand that other noble Lords may wish to speak in the gap. Naturally we thank the House for allowing that. Always by the end people have said what you wanted to say. Therefore, I always think that the last person up is really rather tested.
Those of us who have an interest in revolution and in terrorism and have seen something of it have known for some time that the scale of terrorist activity and terrorism would escalate. We have rather been waiting for it. I know that many noble Lords are of the same opinion. The sophistication, the skill, the planning, the operation and the daring, and actually the bravery and the courage, have all escalated and we find ourselves in some problem.
I do not know if any noble Lord has turned the matter the other way around and wondered what an international terrorist thinks of the United Kingdom. I think that he starts off on a fairly good wicket. He can say to himself, "Well, in Britain, terrorism has succeeded. It has succeeded quite well. It has had a few glitches. The people of Britain have stopped some very nasty incidents and reacted quickly to terrible scenes within their land."
But what would slightly excite him is the fact that he would say, "Well, it is funny because across the water the British seem to have given in to most if not all the demands of the terrorist. What are these people of Britain today? Are they weak? Are they wet? Are they lax? What has happened to them? Are they easy meat?" Then he will look how to get here. He will discover that anyone can come. There seems to be no stoppage on the rate of people. Everyone is welcome. One can arrive by many means. One can melt in and join the many thousands who have already melted into the community. One can start up a business or whatever one wants. Actually, if one wants to obey the rules, one will be housed, lodged and given coupons and probably some money too. One can still get on with one's nefarious business.
Then, as a terrorist, one wants to discover what goes on in a country--what is the thing to do to really knock for six the people of Britain. They will see that they are all talking about having no secrets anymore--everyone must be told everything; equality of information for everybody.
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